Great Lakes Grassroots Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes Grassroots AleGreat Lakes Grassroots Ale

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bottled Grassroots Ale is a Saison formerly named "Hale Ale".

Added by neenerzig on 10-24-2008

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Reviews: 177 | Ratings: 236
Photo of Sammy
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Kind of odd saison. Pours light coloured body with abundant white foaming head. Herbal, yeasty and some spice aroma, all together rather odd. Taste is herbal tea married with beer, drinkable but not something i would seek out again. Middling mouthfeel.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Scott for bringing beer over during the homebrew session.

The beer pours with a murky, dirty straw color with significant haze and particulates swimming around. A froathy white head forms on top while lacing well as the beer fell.

Pungent aromas of dirty pilsner malts, zesty hops, acidic fruits, and funky yeast character fill the nose. Lightly sweaty, musty, and dusty for an authentic Belgian Farmhouse scent. Not overly clean- and I like it that way.

A mix of bruises and fresh pears, apples, and under-rippened berries take the lead with tartness, fruity esters, and depth. Pilsner malts provide a sweetness and bready flavor and give a solid foundation for taste. Peppery notes of orange peel, corriander, and cumin give roundness and complexity to the flavors.

The beer straddles the fence of sweet and dry which challenges the palate as the Saison style should. Sweet upfront, but changes to dryness at mid-palate and never looks back. Prickle of the tonge comes from the zesty acids and peppery notes. Carbonation lifts the beer from the surfaces of the mouth for easy drinking.

A very good rendition of the style, especially comming from an American brewery. American rarely get these styles right but I'd expect greatness from Greak Lakes.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy pale golden color with a whipped egg white head that sticks nicely and also provides a nice lacing pattern

Smell: Lots of the herbal lemon and peppery Saison aromatics, but there is a floral and chamomile character that sets this apart

Taste: Up front, this tastes as expected with the lemon and pepper yeasty phenols complementing the bready malt flavors; by mid-palate, however, we step into a new dimension, with the chamomile and lemon basil flavors adding intriguing complexity; after the swallow, the chamomile is what persists

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate to high carbonation

Drinkability: While this beer has its nay-sayers, I have to come down as a contrarian as I rather liked it; kudos to Great Lakes for their additions to the spice profile although I wish the finish wasn't quite so full of chamomile - I'm mad for basil and would have preferred a bit more anise

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Photo of emerge077
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours golden into a Duvel tulip. A finger of foam rises and falls leaving a spattered skim on the surface. The chamomile is jarring at first, also sulfuric and funky in a spoiled sense. I'm used to inhaling odd smells from lambic, but this just seemed off. The stank fades away after 5-10 minutes, and becomes more earthy and herbal. Garden flavors, green vegetables like squash, celery, rosemary, herbs, and earth. Wet and medium bodied, not dry like Belgian Saisons, but not bad. Very earthy and spring-like character, Grassroots is the perfect name for it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
2.21/5  rDev -33.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured into a tulip.

Pours a hazy yellow color with a bit of a light apricot hue. White head that doesn't persist for long. The nose is...whoa. There is a lot going on. It's all a bit too much and I don't think everything comes together at all. I get some lemon, tea, flowers, chamomile, grass, and a bit of grain. The taste worsens this as there is a weird sort of bitterness from all these earthy, plant-like flavors. Feel is a bit astringent. In the end, I really did not enjoy this.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honey-drizzled apricot with an energetic interior that includes swirling yeast and rapidly rising bubbles. The alabaster colored crown is soft and fluffy, looking nowhere near as good as the heads on the best Belgian saisons. Several streamers of sudsy lace are the extent of the glass coverage.

The nose is classically saison-like, which is a pretty wide range when you come right down to it. It's lemony, herbal and spicy (see below for specific ingredients), with no farmhouse funkiness. Some have suggested that bad batches are out there, but the beer in my glass smells wonderful.

Those who dislike Grassroots Ale are most likely reacting to the particular blend of herbs and spices that Great Lakes uses in this unique saison. The list includes coriander, lemon balm, chamomile and lemon basil. All of them are pretty aggressive on their own, so the combination is bound to polarize.

GLBC would have been better served by eliminating at least two of the above ingredients. Let's call it addition by subtraction. My preference would be to keep the coriander and the lemon balm, while getting rid of the other two. I've never liked chamomile and the lemon basil adds a weedy-herbal flavor that isn't particularly enjoyable.

The delicious first half of the flavor arc (4.0) takes a big turn for the worse at the midway point, culminating in a less than agreeable second half (3.0). The beer is actually growing on me as the ounces pass, but not enough for the final score to change. Unless you're a lover of the style or a lover of highly spiced ales, this isn't very approachable beer and probably doesn't see many repeat purchases.

The mouthfeel is typical Great Lakes. It's closer to medium than light and has a wonderfully silky smooth creaminess born of perfect carbonation. It's too bad that all American craft breweries don't deliver the mouthfeel goods each and every time like these guys do.

Grassroots Ale is my least favorite GLBC beer. It's a decent effort, but the brewery should give serious consideration to tweaking the recipe if they want it to sell. I'll have no trouble drinking the other bottles, but won't buy it again unless changes are made.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.01/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a clouded honey golden with a huge billowing creamy chunky white head leaves fine lacing all throughout the glass.

Aroma has huge banana, coriander and herbal notes going on. Some mildly toasted marshmallow I'm getting from the chamomile plus some citric and notes from the lemon balm and basil. Saison yeast used tends to have a really bread dough with some lightly peppered spiciness.

Flavor has a strong unwavering sweetness built up with banana and citrus notes with herbal green notes and light hop oils. A wildly original ale, farmhouse for sure not much funk more heavy handed with yeast, herbs, and spices primarily coriander. Honey drizzled roasted marshmallow sweetness going on with bitter spices and dry yeast packets giving a bready kick to it all.

Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy almost cloying at time carbonation is lively enough but I'd prefer some effervescence from this style. Spices down weigh to heavily on my palate, finishes with some biscuit malt and honey sweetness but doesn't ruin the mouthfeel.

Drinkability overall is unique one of those beers that challenges the senses and what your definition of beer happens to be, and what it can be. I will be pursuing more of this stuff just to try and figure it out completely.

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Photo of Tone
3.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, golden color. 3/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and only slight lacing. Smells of banana, yeast, tart malt, cloves, sweet malt, and spice/herbs. Mouth feel is smooth and slightly thick with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong earthy herbs that overpower any other flavors and some sweet malt is detectable. Overall, the aroma is amazing but the flavor is ruined by the high concentration of herbs that mask the other flavors.

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Photo of WesWes
3.43/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a hazy gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a nice pale malt and Saison yeast aroma. It's dry and earthy with some funk scents along with an herbal, almost medicinal, aroma. The taste is average. I love the base flavors of the saison, but the herbal element turns me off. It's definately grassy tasting, which isn't what I'm looking for in a good beer. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with perfect carbonation. This is a nice experimental brew, but I'm not going back for seconds.

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Photo of weeare138
2.68/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to hopdog for sharing the growler...

Appears a hazy, light gold with a small white cap. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of lemongrass, vegetal, ginger, and citrus...hmmm.
Taste is saison-esque with wheat and light malt flavors. Strange herbal, vegetal flavors mixing it up.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, spicy, with a vegetal finish.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.65/5  rDev +39.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. Enjoy by 10/21/09 printed on the bottle.

(A)-Poured a cloudy golden yellow color. Respectable light yellow to tan head that slowly dissipated to a solid layer.

(S)- Super sweet lemon and bananna. Lots of wheat, yeast, and hay barnyard funk. Almost has a candied fig thing to it. Call me crazy, but it smells like dandelions! (could just be the chamomile).

(T)- Lots of clay, wheat, hay, an almost butterscotchy lemony funkiness to it. Rather floral aspects with a light apple flavor thrown into the mix as well.

(M)- Good mouthfeel of balanced but complex flavors with a great carbonation level. The floral aspect comes out almost creamy in the finish. Very interesting.

(D)- Havent had a ton of Saison style beers, but this really is unique and delicious. Really balanced with very complex flavors that I still really cant pinpoint 100%. A 6pk wouldnt last long at all in my fridge.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.73/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a hazy bright orange body with a bubbly cream colored head that fades quickly. There is a gentle carbonation of bubbles that pop out of the hazy body every once and a while.

S- This beer has a smell of soft fresh wheat bread with some hints of cooked ginger that come through when it warms.

T- This beer has a big apricot flavor with softer notes of flowers and wheat. There is a slight snap flavor at the finish with a hint of green hops. In the malt flavor there is a warmth and spice note that is probable from ginger but without the bite of ginger.

M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a slight slippery note in the texture.

D- I didn't know what this beer was when I ordered it so I was surprised to see a murky American Wheat Ale but it added to the mystery. This menu said it is made with ginger and lemongrass but I didn't get any lemongrass flavors at all. The ginger was a dull cooked flavor and not the fresh ginger snap that I have tasted in other ginger beers. This beer is refreshing and an interesting twist but nothing I would have to have another glass of.

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Photo of akorsak
3.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle purchased at Vintage Estates.

A: The saison sits hazily in my glass, buffered by a half a finger of white head. As the head recedes, nothing is left in its wake. Under the head, a golden ale sits brightly, despite the haze.

S: Unusual, unpleaseant even. Overripe fruit aroma are strong with green vegetables adding a leafy, asparagus aroma. Took me a while to pinpoint that, but it is what it is.

T: More asparagus in the taste, but it is met with lemony citrus and a mild ginger profile. The carbonation is strong, cleansing the tongue with each sip. Despite the unusual flavors, I think that the ale has an intriguing flavor that I keep coming back to. Grass and hay are prominent, maybe those flavors keep pulling me in. Overall, I'm sold on this, even with its beyond-a-saison flavor.

M: The mouthfeel starts off with the asparagus before ginger and citrus arrive to save the day. Don't judge this beer by the first sip.

D: An odd brew that I can't put down even though part of me wants to. The initial impression on each sip need improvement.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.27/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, best before 10/6/2009. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a slightly hazy golden/orange color with about an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The aroma is mostly herbal. I can smell coriander, basil, chamomile, and a bit of grain. The taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some lemon noticable. The taste is very herbal and earthy overall. Mouthfeel is light/medium, it's creamy and has good, soft carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's very smooth, refreshing, and easy to drink. I can't remember the last time I had a beer (if ever) that's been as heavy on the herbs as this one. If you like herbal beers, then you should like this brew.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Screw-top growler filled at Sam the Beerman in Binghamton, NY.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" off-white head over the slightly cloudy golden brew. The creamy froth lasts well, with thick sticky lace. Aroma is sweet, slightly earthy, with some spicy yeast character. Taste starts with the yeast spices, earthy notes in the middle, and a light to moderate hoppy bite close. Mouthfeel is super smooth, with good drinkability. The earthiness doesn't quite work for me, but this is definitely a well-constructed beer.

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Photo of scruffwhor
4.07/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden and hazey with some copper highlights. Pretty quick head sporadicly slow bubbling. Great herba aroma of grass, hay, and chammomile.
The tste is very earthy and herbal. Grassy open field with a bunch of chammomile and a little lavender. The hoppin gives the beer an added flowery bitterness that just offsets the herbs and malt. Very flavorful and drinkable beer. A session saison!?!?!

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Photo of Bighuge
3.62/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Murky looking glowing orange/amber body. Thin ivory white head. Lacing is actually pretty full. Aroma is a lot of cookie dough, yeasty doughballs of cookie dough that is, spice and cardamon. Good smeller. I notice a gaseous feel to the beer right off. A little too much CO2 in this one. Flavor takes a hit from the aroma. It's grassy and herbal. And also yeasty and doughy. But the balance is a little out of whack. This will probably go down as one of my lowest rated Great Lakes beers.

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Photo of Viggo
4.03/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at HopCat. Served in a tulip.

Pours a lightly hazed orange, some red highlighting, thick white head forms, drops to a solid ring and leaves some big chunks of lace on the glass, great retention. Smell is real nice, orange peel and bread, biscuits, coriander, quite spicy and yeasty, wheat, more orange, fresh and zesty. Taste is similar, spicy at first, coriander, pepper, oranges, very dry and bready malt profile, wheat, some yeastiness, light earthy bitterness and dry in the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation, very refreshing and drinkable. A pretty solid saison, I enjoyed it.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.53/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on tap at the brewpub with dinner last night. The pub description was "light ale spiced with ginger and lemongrass", and for some reason I thought it would be a saison. But the wheat haze was easily visible in the beer when it was served so I guess I then thought this was a version of a wit. Not sure... Anyway the aroma and flavor of ginger is hard to miss, not really overpowering but not extremely pleasant in a beer. The lemongrass is OK but with ginger a little tends to go a long way. I had a hard time detecting other flavors, and it diminished the drinkability quite a bit for me. I won't try it again but it was an interesting recipe.

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Photo of ZAP
4.02/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Golden Rod colored....big frothy white head of about an inch and 1/4.

S-Three things stand out...cookie doughiness....herbalness, and sweet lemon drops...Very nice smelling beer.

T-The taste begins with the lemons and cookie dough but there is an underlying herbalness as well...lacks the anise and black licorice I find in some Saisons( which I do not like so, that is a plus for this beer.)

M-Medium bodied...pretty highly carbonated..

D-An interesting and enjoyable Saison with a uniqueness to it.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.6/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap, malt house

cell phone notes

appearance: murky straw body, sudsy white froth

smell: white corn, very earthy, sweet malt balance, corriander and other spice

taste: oddly enough - i cant get past a very raw white corn taste. other earth and vegetal notes are a little exaggerated on this beer as well. Very underwhelming

mouthfeel: active carbonation

drinkability: fine

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.64/5  rDev +38.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Triple Karmeliet tulip. Best by 10/13/09 printed on the label with the serving temperature.

A - Cloudy bright golden color with a dense, white, two finger head with good retention and some lacing.

S - Banana esters and strong spices - coriander - lemon peel gives it a citrusy aroma - yeasty - Belgian strain certainly. Bread and sweet malts overflowing.

T - Belgian yeast and a strong banana ester with a slight but noticeable citrus character. Heavy but not offensive spicing. Coriander. Sweet and malty too.

M - Smooth yet well carbonated. Creamy and soft on the palate. Spicy and slightly dry.

D - While this beer is incredible, it's flavor, I think, is a bit much for the long haul. Holy crap is it good though.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.52/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, luscious amber with a thin and not persistent white head. Malty aroma is somewhat fruity, mainly banana with a touch of lemon. Flavor is richly malty and fruity with some strong eskers; banana flavor dominates, and it is slightly sweet and rather refreshing. Texture is smooth, lively and edgy, leaving a fruity finish.

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Photo of Brenden
3.68/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one is a little difficult to describe. It's technically a Saison, but doesn't have the characteristic citrus and certain other notes particular to the style. I'll do what I can.

The appearance is pretty good. The head pours nicely but doesn't last very long. I does leave some patches of lacing on the glass. The color is a golden amber and carbonation is fairly active.
The smell is all spices, herbs, vegetation and earthiness with a hops backing that isn't the backbone per se but isn't weak either. Coriander is obvious, and grassy notes are up front. Basil is there as well. There's a lemongrass on the nose but not much actual citrus. There's a very strong herbal / leafy / vegetable aroma on the nose.
Honestly, the taste is much more herbs and veggies than fruits. There is a nice hops backing that isn't overshadowed by the other strong flavors that adds a nice balancing aspect. Sweetness is there mostly in the finish and very faintly. There's little yeast in the flavor but there is some barley-like grains flavor present. There's a floral note as well and a very herbal leaf tea flavor.
The mouthfeel is what I'd expect: medium body with moderate carbonation and a good mix of crisp and smooth.
This is a good beer, but don't come into this expecting your typical farmhouse ale. This is a very different and new experience, and worth trying. A good, well-balanced beer.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cask version at Barley’s 5th Annual Mini RAF (04/28/07): This beer is a hazy yellow color with a thin and quickly diminishing white head. Minimal lacing. The aroma is yeasty with some ginger and lemon. Light, crisp body with zesty citrus, wheat and ginger flavors. The finish is refreshing and citrusy and leaves a mild bitter hops aftertaste. A lawnmower beer as only Great Lakes could provide.

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Great Lakes Grassroots Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.34 out of 5 based on 236 ratings.
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