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hibiscus-saison-crop-2The first time I had Royal City’s Hibiscus Saison, I was at a December birthday party for a one-year-old girl. Apparently, she knows her beer.

Her parents had a keg of the Guelph-made saison out on the front porch, and guests served themselves in red plastic cups. Expecting a cold sip of Pabst, I was pleasantly surprised by this delicious local concoction.

Brewed with real hibiscus tea leaves, Royal City’s unique ale has a distinct floral smell kind of like walking into a florist’s shop. It’s fruity without being sweet, tart and cranberry-ish without being sour. It’s cloudy with a slightly pink hue and pours with a rich, frothy white head.

While more Ontario craft brewers are jumping on this popular Belgian farmhouse ale style, Royal City is the only brewer making a hibiscus-infused variety that can be found on LCBO shelves. They’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, now selling it at a slightly higher 5.4 per cent alcohol per volume.hibiscus-saison-glass-bottle

With its refreshing, mildly juicy and clove-like finish, the Hibiscus Saison is a perfect summer beer, but I see no reason why you can’t drink it year-round. The label says “Share it with friends and strangers.” But I say you might want to keep this one all to yourself.

What the brewery says:

“Hibiscus Saison starts off with a refreshing, almost juice-like tartness. Effervescent and bubbly we transition into the delicate, light, malt sweetness and crisp, herbal hop character that is the backbone of this beer. Lastly the spice and clove character from the yeast comes through in a dry, clean finish.”