On Trend

Often craft breweries seem to pick up on a unique flavour, hop, herb, flower etc. and next thing you know there are countless options on the shelf boasting said ingredient du jour. I feel like hibiscus may be a somewhat slow-burning example of this. At first, I recall having one hibiscus craft beer and it was good, then another brewery followed suit and it was good, then… Well you get the picture.
This brings me to the current beer in my glass, Hibiscus Saison from Guelph’s Royal City Brewing Co. This beer pours a rose gold colour, a bit hazy and with tons of airy bright white head. Slightly funky on the nose typical of the saison style and perhaps a bit of fruitiness, this may be the hibiscus influence. First few sips and I would know this is a saison but not sure I can discern the hibiscus flavour. Truth be told, any of the other hibiscus beer I have tried is equally subtle with the star ingredient imparting a tepid, tea-like character or a slight fruity or berry taste but one that is not too sweet. A fairly light-bodied beer with impressive head retention and some carbonation. Finishes on the slightly spicy side. Overall a decent saison but not sure I would say the hibiscus was a crucial factor here. Maybe I need to sample some straight hibiscus tea to get a better handle on what this edible flower is bringing to the bottle.


Hibiscus image from https://funflowerfacts.com/2013/07/17/13-fascinating-uses-for-hibiscus

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5 responses to “On Trend

  • Anthony

    I have had a lot of hibiscus tea (Chinese restaurants) but I am very unsure of what it would bring to beer.
    I tried McCauslan’s (not sure if I spelled that right, and they’re not paying me to plug them, so I am way to lazy to look it up) Apricot beer. This was quite a strong flavour that was interesting….once in a very long while.
    I agree that there seem to be trends in craft brewing. Some are good, but others are a little silly.

    • Sara

      There is no mistaking the apricot impact; I have had a couple different apricot beers and they are, as you mention, a nice occasional treat.

      I feel like the hibiscus tea character worked in a Quebec Hibiscus Tea Beer I tried but again a pretty subtle influence so needs to be in a fairly subtle beer style to begin with.

  • Paul Hodgson

    Hey Sara,

    I hope that one of these days you have the chance to visit Hawaii. The local beer is nothing to shout about, but they import all these great brews from the US left coast so it’s a matter of stopping into Safeway and choosing between Red Hook, Rogue, Deschutes, etc with a 12-pack costing about the same as a 6-pack of the same stuff here in a BC liquor store.

    Also, they have awesome Hibiscus.

    Cheers, Paul

    • Sara

      Would love to visit Hawaii for countless reasons and the ready-access to great beer is just another tipping point in favour of me making some travel plans. Cheers!

  • Mike

    I have not had it in years but I remember really liking the beer called “the Jamaican” at Dockside Restaurant on Granville Island. It used Habiscus in it also.

    The few times I have been there in the last couple years it has not been on tap though so I can’t check if that is still the case unfortunately.

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