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Judge's Review: 83 Rating - Madam Basil by Holy City Brewing

July, 2018
Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
4 / 6
34 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
16 / 20

Madam Basil by Holy City Brewing is a Saison, but due to the addition of basil will be judged as a Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer under BJCP 2015 category 30A with a base of Saison (category 25B). The difficulty in this SHV style is layering the SHV element such that it complements the style while also not overwhelming the underlying beer. The SHV is there to add extra complexity, but it still needs to be a recognizable as a beer first. Being that a saison is already a spice-forward beer, adding another to the mix is a pretty safe play in this aspect.

This beer pours a deep straw color with slight haze, and despite lots of tiny bubbles, there is a lot less head than one would expect for the style. A potpourri of spices flows from the glass, with basil at the forefront, along with ginger, peppercorn, lemongrass, orange peel and coriander. Beneath all the spices, there is almost no hops and very little malt (lightly grainy, crackery) to speak of. The flavor is similar to aroma, very spice forward. It almost tastes closer to food than beer, like basil pesto on top of lemon pepper pasta with a bit of an alcoholic kick. There is no alcohol warmth, but you can tell it’s a decent level of alcohol. You know it’s a beer looking at it, but with the lack of a hop/malt presence, one could be tricked into believing it’s a basil gimlet. It’s a nice refreshing beer, but I think it would do excellent job as a shandy or beer cocktail. As a standalone, I can see people loving or hating it. In either case, it would do best alongside food outside with a nice summer breeze.