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: 235
Photo of UltraZelda64
1.99/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Wow. I have been craving beer for a while now, and recently saw two Great Lakes beers I never had before, both limited, so I decided to get some: Glockenspiel (some good stuff) and this, Grassroots Ale. I figured, it's Great Lakes... they have yet to *really* put me down, so I bought a 12-pack of Grassroots Ale (partially because of Glockenspiel's high alcohol content and the fact that it's only available in an expensive four-pack).

Anyway, the appearance... it doesn't look great; a clear, washed-out yellow color with a small white head.

As for the aroma it's grassy, weedy, vegetable-like, etc. Not very appealing, but different from anything I've smelled before. I'm not impressed, but whatever... I guess I'll taste it and give it a try.

Its taste is, unfortunately, just like the smell... only worse. Strong weedy, grassy, and vegetable-like flavors are all at the forefront, all fighting for dominance... and all seeming to just be offensive. Now, it's a few days since I first tried this, and I'm finally reaching the end of the 12-pack. I realize that, while the base beer (in typical Great Lakes fashion) is excellent and would be good on its own, all these grasses and weeds just kill it. Didn't this replace Moondog Ale in bottles? I admit didn't care much for that one (ESB is just not my style), but after trying this, a Moondog sounds damn good right now... and I'll probably know better next time to stay away from anything that says "Saison" on the package.

The drinkability, on the other hand, is the tough part. The first two or three beers have me struggling to even continue. However, possibly due to the alcohol content (6% ABV), or maybe just because the "offensive" tastes start to get weaker... by the third or fourth beer, it's tolerable. Still, almost any "decent" beer is probably drinkable after having a few, and Grassroots is (like any GLBC beer) not cheap, so I'm having a hard time justifying drinking this beer at all.

And to finish this review off: The mouthfeel is pretty decent; not watery, and not heavy. Just about average.

Conclusion: I won't be getting this again. Hopefully this is short-lived and Great Lakes puts out a better seasonal in its place.

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

Sampled at the "Beer On The Bay" (Erie) fest (7-25-09).

I have to admit, this was a beer I was skeptical about tasting/reviewing. After seeing so many negative (D & F) scores for this GLBC offering, I was put off. GLBC is one of my favorite craft brewing companies. Everything I've had from them has been solid and very much to BJCP style guidelines. So when I started reading things like "sulphuric", "farty" and "skunky", I was thinking, "OMG, has GLBC finally gone and produced a loser?" "Did a bad batch get out?" Fortunately, by attending the fest, I was able to dispell all those notions. Now to the review.

The pour from tap produces a nice apricot yellow colored brew, capped with a light and fluffy off-white head. Head retention is decent, with evidence of some lacing (not a lot though).

The nose is lightly scented with various herbs and is very much like your typical Saison. This one has a few other notes to ponder, beyond the citric, zesty lemon aromas you typically get. There is coriander and lemon basil. I get the coriander, but I'm not sure I can put my finger on the basil.

Taste, again, is very typical of a Saison, but has more of a spicy note than a citric lemony note. I guess this is GLBC's own signature on the style. Its not objectionable, just different. NOTE: I found absolutely *nothing* in the nose or taste that even remotely brought 'sulphuric, 'farty' or 'skunky' to mind, so forget about that right now. Those who used those adjectives perhaps might not have had Saisons before, or have an 'under developed palate'. Mouthfeel is closer to medium than light, and very smooth. Despite a moderate abv of 6.2%, there is no notice of the alcohol - no fusel notes at all. I'd rate drinkability as high; for those who appreciate the Saison style. There is *no* Farmhouse Funk associated with this brew .. relax and let the melody of flavors commingle on your palate.

Not my favorite GLBC brew by a long shot, but I did enjoy it, after finally having a chance to taste and review it. Don't let the negative reviews scare you off, as they did me. If you enjoy Saisons, seek this one out and give it a try.

Na Zdravje!

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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 Infamous7100
3.49/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Nothing too special here. Copper to light orange. Pretty clear.
S: Very complex. A grassy, earthy smell is what first jumps out. I'm also getting some veggies, carrots perhaps.
T: Much like the smell, it tastes like veggies. To me, this could almost be a fruit/veg beer. Very unique and complex flavoring. Not bitter in the least.
M: Nothing spectacular. Goes down smooth with just a hint of aftertaste. Light to medium carbonation.
D: Good for one per sitting. It's too unique to have back to back.

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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 rtepiak
3.15/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a rather disappointing american saison. with a pour of a golden ale. mild head and no murk. nose of lemon balm in the sense that it was lemon zest and bready... well doughy... almost playdoh-ie nose. palate wasn't particularly herbal. the chamomile was the only saving grace of the palate. otherwise... a tad sweet in the beligan that sat around too long sort of way. and a peppery hop finish of mild proportion. i can say one of weakest beers i've had from the brewery.

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

Pale yellow in color. Decent head at first. Sulfury and yeasty aroma-somewhat spiced. Soft malty flavor with a small, off set bitterness to it. Somewhat spicey-mild lemon and citrus quality. I found the spices too much at first but by the 2nd bottle and as it warmed a bit it became quite pleasant. Nice mouthfeel-quite alive and fresh tasting. Good spiced saison and great for a summer's day.

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Photo of sholland119
3.23/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a hazy gold with a nice ring of white head and good lacing.

S-Fairly herby. I think it's the chamomile, and it's a bit overwhelming.

T-Again, too much herb presence for my taste. For me, the chamomile is the culprit here.

M-Medium bodied and a bit crisp.

D-I love Great Lakes beers, except for this one. Glad I tried it though.


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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 goblue3509
4.15/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orange copper color with a two finger head that stays around. There is good lacing on the beer. The smell is of earth tones and malt. The taste is full bodied and unique. The taste is of earthy hops and a small citrus tone. The taste is almost of grass actually, it is very unique and very good. The mouthfeel is good not very harsh. Overall the drinkability is good. I really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of curasowa
3.6/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a golden yellow color with 1 finger of head that lingered quite a while. As soon as I opened the bottle I got a big sour whiff. Has a typically dry, champagne-esque, saison smell with some yeasty-ness. The taste is full bodied, more so that a typical saison, with mild carbonation. I like my saisons to be very drying, and this one lingers with some stickiness. Also get some hints of clove. Over all, this is a pretty good saison. It's nice to see Great Lakes try some new styles.

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

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a standard pint glass. This one has been in the refrigerator for a few month, but the best by date is still well off; 10/14/09. I wonder if they gave it a longer time than their regular beers.

Appearance: Pours with a massive, pillowy 4 fingers of nearly white head, enough that I don't get the entire bottle out in one pour. This settles slowly, leaving behind white rings as I drink. The beer itself is medium gold color with plenty of suspended particulate matter. Some sediment remains in the bottle.

Smell: Tart aroma upfront with hints of peaches and a slight lemon undertone.

Taste: Slightly sweet malt upfront with strong, earthy notes. A mild bitterness in the finish and once again, musty and vegetal flavors.

Mouthfeel: Average level of carbonation. Body is good.

Drinkability: Interesting. Not being an expert on the saison style, I can't expound much on my observations. Suffice it to say, this tastes like I would imagine a country style ale, very much "of the earth." Not bad, but not something I would explicitly seek out again.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.06/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle at PPRBSG09. I was a bit frightened to try this beer, but it turned out to not be so bad...Pours a clear bright yellow. Aroma of broccoli, sweet fruits, and yeast. Flavor of corn malt, sweet malt, and a bitter finish. Not as terrible as I had feared, but it's still not very good.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. had this at the brewpub in cleveland a couple months ago and it was quite good. pours a rich amber color with golden highlights and a healthy head that is tight, white, and has great retention. light lacings and a solid presence in the glass.

aroma is full of wet hay and grassy hops, with a touch of wheat malt and a touch of grape/apple along with the malt. very fresh in the nose, quite like the brewpub version.

taste is more of the same with a subtle spiced quality in the background, weaved into the overall profile quite well. the overall quality is again full of wet hay and grassy hops, with a mildly dry finish and residual grassy hops.

mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly dry on the palate, with a mildly bitter finish and aftertaste. the hops here are fresh and somewhat earthy, which is great coming from a bottled version, and do not show stale qualities at all.

drinkability is good. this brew is quite fresh in the bottle (when compared to the tap version at the brewpub), and still retains all the qualities that make 'Grassroots' the perfect name for this brew. quite good, with all the qualities that a saison should have. cheers!

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Photo of Deuane
4.4/5  rDev +31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Hazy, bright, orange-amber with a medium bright white head that holds on strong and leaves nice lace.

S-Lemon zest, apricot and grassy qualities with spicy yeast notes in the background.

T-Bright lemongrass, lemon zest, apricot and fresh cut hay. Spicy , dry finish.

M-Light bodied, sharp, tart and crisp.

D-A totally solid summer session beer.This is about as refreshing as a "homegrown" saison can be. A wonderful example of what using fresh, hand cared for ingredients can do for a brew. Kudos to the folks at GLBC for using their own products and creating such a fine brew!

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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 dogfishandi
3.83/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a hazy straw/yellow golden color with a 2 finger white head that faded to about a 1/4in. of some thin head. lots of rushing bubbles. some lacing. pretty good retention.

S- smells of some belgian yeast funk, citrusy lemon zest, a little bit of a spicy herb aroma, and some light grains. the spices and herbs definately come out more as it warms.

T- belgian yeast, bubblegum, lemon zest, citrus, slightly spicy herbs, a little watery, but nice and refreshing.

M- light body, light mouthfeel, nice fine carbonation. a nice and refreshing beer in the summer time.

D- nice abv and an easy drinking flavorable beer make this a nice sessionable beer for the summer time. a nice example of the style.

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Photo of kels
3.46/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours from the bottle into my pint glass a hazy golden orange-honey color with a strong 2-finger thick foamy white head. The head fades and retains very well at 1/2 finger with tons of lace sliding down all sides of the glass in sheets.

Smell: Definitely the least appealing part of this beer. smells like cooked broccoli and asparagus, wilted herbs and lemon. Soft grains and yeast come through the vegetation.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Feel is bright, full and soft - really quite nice and clean. Taste is pretty much as expected frmo the smell - light toasted grains, strong leafy herbs and lemony hops. Lots of yeast come through, too.

Drinkability: Not too high because of the overwhelming aroma, but the feel is nice enough to help make up for it.

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Photo of McNealc31
3.26/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is my first try at a Saison, so I didn't really know what to expect. But I love everything I've had from Great Lakes, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It pours a very inviting golden color with just a little bit of head.

As for the taste, there is a distinct citrus flavor, but I feel as though all the other flavors get a bit muddled together. It's also a tad watery.

It's good, but not great. No problem finishing the six-pack, but I doubt I'd buy it again.

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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 letsgopens
3.66/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I'm anticipating another treat for the senses from the talented folks at Great Lakes. Their Saison pours a bright, rich, cloudy golden hue with a milky white, effervescent head. The pearly cap of foam recedes fairly quickly and leaves little or no lacing.

Very fresh in nature and extremely aromatic. Its bouquet is characterized by bright citrus and lots of spicy goodness. Fresh lemon zest and coriander. Some lightly toasted grainy wheat and very floral hops are apparent as well.

Again bright and crisp with lots of floral spiciness. Citrus, hops, clove, coriander, tart cherry and chamomile are evident. Some lightly toasted grain comes through in the finish along with the lingering spice and a warm booze note.

Crisp and tangy with moderate level of carbonation and overall medium body. The hint of warmth in the finish makes for a semidry feel. Overall a very nice rendition of the style and extremely enjoyable.

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

I poured the bottle half way up my beer tasting wine glass. It poured a cloudy straw color. It smells of asparagus, herb de provence, and a slight citrus orange. The taste is almost dirty with a bit all the smells coming to your tongue. The mouthfeel is appropriate and I find it very drinkable. I have probably made my way through 5 or 6 of these in the past few weeks. I have to say, I thought at first it was a little too eccentric for me. This beer has grown on me. I find it much more interesting than some safe takes on Saison that wind up being too watery.

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Photo of damndirtyape
2.96/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bottle had 11/1/09 as the best before date. Poured a nice orange/yellow mostly transparent (just a hint of cloud) into a pint glass. No foam at all.
Smell was yeasty in the bottle as I popped the cap, but in the glass - I couldn't place it at first, but as it warmed up I swear it was cooked vegetables.
Mouthfeel was nothing special - nicely carbonated on the tongue.
The taste I'm torn on. I finished the whole glass but I think I did not like it. You get a hint of sweet at first followed by sour and bitter for the rest. As it warmed up I finally placed the flavor and smell. Brussel Sprouts. I don't mind these very sour vegetables, but it was not what I was looking in for a beer.
Drinkability - well, I'm not going to buy it again, but I did finish it without complaint. I really really like everything I've had from Great Lakes to date so I wonder if this one just slipped through quality control or maybe this is just one of those styles of beers that I do not like. The date on the bottle was good and the bottle didn't appear dusty in the store, so I don't know. Reading some of the other reviews on this beer though I suspect that this is one of those beers that if this style is to your liking, you'll love it. And if not - you'll dislike it. It's not for me though.

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Photo of buschbeer
2.32/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I poured into a pint glass to little head. The smell is a bit gamey. It must be the wild yeast. The taste isn't quite as bad as it smells. Its just that when you've had Hennipin, this doesn't compare. I like Great Lakes but not one of their better offerings. I can't see drinking these on a regular basis. I'm glad I only got two of them. Bring me an Edmund Fitzgerald.

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Photo of campbellj21
3.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a belgian tulip glass.

A-Semi-Translucent yellow/golden color with a 2in white head that drops to a nice cap and stays with the beer to the last sip, very little lacing.

S-Smell does not do this beer justice, first whiff is of wet grass/asparagus with just a hint of clove coming through. I can see how this could put someone off this beer right from the jump.

T-Taste definitely makes up for the smell which was suprising. A lot going on in here with a sweet/spicy tast at the beginning with a fruity/slightly sour finish and just enough bitterness to clean it up at the end.

M-Mouthfeel was pleasant and easy, somewhat full with good carbonation.

D-Easy drinking and is a good treat on a hot day. The smell is the only thing that really makes this beer fall behind some of the better Saisons.

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Great Lakes Grassroots Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.34 out of 5 based on 235 ratings.
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