Gulf Island Brewery Salt Spring Island Heather Ale was another beer I got in the beer exchange with Leapbeer. Gulf Island Brewery is located on Salt Spring Island, a smaller island just off the coast of Vancouver Island. They began production in 1998 and remain a small family operation with a massive staff, including owners, of 4.
Heather ales are an ancient style that trace their origins back to prehistoric Scotland. Heather was used to balance the flavor of the beer 3,000 years before hops became the prominent spicing option. Saltspring Island Heather Ale is a special release created for Butchart Gardens featuring heather grown at the gardens. Heather is a flowering plant that prefers acidic and infertile soil and was one of the most commonly used ingredients in the gruit mixes used prior to hops. Fun fact, it’s also related to cranberries.
Appearance: Honey gold with a touch of amber highlights. White head with ok retention.
Aroma: Herbal, floral, earthy with sweet touches of honey.
Taste: Earthy, grainy, honey notes with a touch of floral sweetness. Balanced.
Overall Impression: This is a really nice beer. The balance lends itself very nicely to being a refreshing beer option. It’s flavorful, but not too strong. This is an enjoyable summer sipper a nice level of interesting depth.
Availability: Very limited. Probably not available except on or around Vancouver Island, BC.
As they say: If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!
Did this have any hops, or was it only heather?
It did use some hops. They were very subtle and only added a touch of crispness to help the balance.
Sounds delish. Love heather ales.
I’m relatively new to them. Although I’ve had a few gruit beers that may have featured it.
Good show! I tried this awhile back, but never reviewed it. It was quite light, but very refreshing and subtle. I like finding beers I’ve tried here 🙂
I know what you mean. I almost always stop when I see a beer I’ve reviewed or want to review. Pretty sure fire way to get me to read your blog at least once.
Gulf Island brewery have definately been improving their quality and range of beers over the past couple of years. We have been talking to them about tours etc as we think that would be great for our guests – apparently they are working on at least a tasting room, which would be great.
Well, on a bigger picture, the quality of beer coming out of Vancouver Island has grown immensely since the last time I was there. I’m excited to witness the next 5 years.