Red Duck – Canute the Gruit

My laptop died… but here I am on a flash new laptop typing silently. I don’t know when laptops stopped making noise, but the future is upon us ladies and gents, and it’s as quiet as an elf.

So I’m back with a “Canute the Gruit”. Yeah, I don’t know what the hell that is either… lets find out. 

The basics

This is a limited release from Red Duck Beer. A very small Victorian brewery who brew some of the nicest beer in the country. It’s a limited release ‘Dark Medieval Ale’. The bottle says that it’s an ‘Extreme Ale’ and is bittered with hawthorn berry juice and stinging nettles. That’s pretty extreme!

It’s 4.6%. I got this one at Slowbeer, but their beers are quite widely available:

How does it look?

It comes out very black in the glass. I didn’t pour it all and then swirled up some of the sediment at the bottom which when added to the glass, caused it to turn a murky brown with a slight hint of dark purple around the edges. There was not really any head to speak of.

How does it smell/taste

Tobacco, ash and wood smoke dominate the nose of this one. There is an underlying hint of blackberry (hawhthorn berry?) just hiding beneath the surface, but it’s really hard to find as the wood smoke really takes over as it warms in the glass.

The taste is a strange mix of the berries, ash and wood smoke. The tobacco is present in the after taste, but it almost feels like this beer is an arm wrestle between tart sourness of the berry and smoke/ash. It’s like eating a blackberry pie round a fire on the beach… I keep feeling like I would enjoy it more if I could somehow get out of the smoke blowing into my face.

Right at the end, the ash really dominates. Anyone who has ever been near an ash bucket will know this taste. It’s unpleasant, but strangely homely.

When should I drink it?

Maybe round a fire with blackberry pie while emptying an ash bucket?

You’ll want to share this one. It’s not very easy to get through, but might go well with some Gruyere cheese. The weird combination of flavours would be an interesting match with the texture and creamy taste of Gruyere.


I don’t know. It’s very challenging and the combination of earthy smoke flavours and tart sour berry is interesting … but I don’t really think I enjoy drinking it.

Some people will though, and if you enjoy challenging and interesting beer then this is definitely one for you.



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  1. August 6, 2014

    […] When I reviewed the first Gruit 3 years ago, I didn’t know what a gruit really was. […]

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