So, I found myself in a bottle shop the other day looking to pick up something new and happened upon an interesting bottle from Element Brewing. In addition to being from a brewery I’ve had good experiences with, there were a couple of other things working in its favor. Being just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I though a beer incorporating lavender might make for an interesting pickup. Add in the fact that it’s part of the Absolute Series and it’s absolutely freezing here in Boston it seemed like something that had to happen. Let’s see how it went.
Beer Name: LESO (Lavender Extra Special Oak)
Brewer: Element Brewing Company
Style: English Strong Ale
Description: As I mentioned above, this beer is part of the Element’s Absolute Zero Series of limited release beers. For this one, they took their ESO ale as a base and “dry-hopped” it with lavender harvested in South Deerfield, MA. This bottle was one of only 460 total that was sealed on September 8, 2014.
Pour Info: Poured right out of the fridge into a snifter glass.
Price: $12 for 750 ml.
Appearance: Pours dark copper/reddish color. Thin white foamy head forms at the pour and sticks around keep you company while finishing the glass.
Smell: Smells faintly herbal and oaky. Not much going on here to report on.
Taste: This part is, ummm, interesting. Right after sipping, there is a big herbal lavender rush up front which dominates that end of the taste. Towards the finish the Strong Ale base comes out a bit but is still mostly overpowered by the herbs. As the beer warms the herbs mellow out a little but are definitely still present. By the time the beer gets to room temperature, the lavender has faded to the point it only comes through moderately at the beginning. A slight sweetness comes through in the middle while it finishes with an oaky/lavender taste. Honestly, the herbs really did not do it for me which does negatively affect the taste in my opinion. The base beer, from what I can get of it, actually tastes promising so I wouldn’t rule out trying that on its own.
Mouth Feel: Mouthfeel is medium and bubbly while cold. Feels like it thins out a bit as it warms.
Hype Factor: I don’t think there was any real hype around this one, but I was excited to try it for the reasons mentioned above. I also had a great experience with another beer in the Absolute Zeros series, Citronium, all the way back in my first post here so my curiosity was certainly piqued to try another.
Overall: Whether or not you like this beer is really going to come down to how you feel about herbal tastes, lavender in particular. It ended up being too overpowering for me, but perhaps there are others out there that really go for this sort of thing. More power to you if that is the case and you happen to be reading this. As for me though, this beer was a miss. Nice idea but I couldn’t get past the intense herbal taste.
Oh well, so this one didn’t work out for me. Sometimes that happens when you gamble on a beer. In retrospect, maybe I should have taken a pause at seeing lavender on the label but it seemed too timely and tempting to pass up. Lesson learned.