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Beer – #810 – The Herbalist – Manuka Ale

The Herbalist Manuka Ale, it’s BeerJerkNZ beer of the week time. This has a mixed review set but I’m going to go in with some expectations and hope that it’s as good as the other Herbalist beer I had, the Rosemary and Liquorice.

Captain Cook’s use of the leaves to make a ‘tea-like drink’ led to the plant also being known as Tea Tree

A beer of 5.4% ABV,  around 150 calories a serve size, and  2.13 standard drink units.

Brewed by  The Herbalist and in the style that is a Spice/Herb/Vegetable beer, and they are based in the fair city of Auckland.

Something different

Something different

New Zealand Malted Barley, New Zealand Motueka & Cascade Hops, Rosemary and Liquorice herbs & Yeast.

The Herbalist craft beer made with New Zealand malted barley and New Zealand hops and imported herbs.

The Manuka Ale uses the same malts, hops and yeast as the Rosemary & Liquorice Ale and this shows exactly what difference the herbal additions make.

For this beer The Herbalist added a combination of Fennel Seeds, Manuka Leaves, Burdock Root to the make for a smooth, refreshing and slightly spicy ale.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

It’s very bready on opening, and it’s very well carbonated with foam filing the neck and nearly spilling. The aroma also has something sweet but blunt sweet, earthy sweet.

Pour is a really rich orange with a lovely fluff of persistent head.  Can’t get a handle on the aroma though, now it spells vaguely peppery and spicy.

Well that’s really full of honey and sugariness, and with a little kick of peppery thing at the back of the tongue. Nice lovely full mouthfeel. That’s pretty decent,

The Herbalist Manuka AleI like the little kick, it’s a nice counterpoint to the sweetness in this, although the sweetness itself isn’t ultra-sweet, hard to explain really, but it’s an earthy unrefined kind of sweetness.

It isn’t however as good as the other beer from the brewer, this one is a little brash and rough, a beer that you drink and don’t sip and savour. It is very interesting however the difference a few additions can make, and so dramatically.

Overall though I thought it was ‘nice’ but not spectacular or particularly memorable, the additions are not unusual enough or common enough to give you association memories or expectations.  I kind of didn’t enjoy the aroma so much, I found it very earthy, but I liked the look of the beer in the glass, and I enjoyed the mouthful and flavours as they presented. Not disappointed, but not overwhelmed.

I came to the conclusion that this was a beer that has some loud notes that distract and also highlight the beer, but for me that makes it a beer you have to stop and think about too much, it’s not a beer that aids a conversation the shouty nature is a distraction to the palate where you are trying to work out exactly what it is you’re drinking.

The pdubyah-o-meter rates this as 8 of its things from the thing. It’s a fine and clever thing to make good beer, and not a beer for beer’s sake. The change of some ingredients makes this completely different to it’s partner beer, and that was a revelation.

The double dip review

  • Where did I get it?  BeerJerkNZ beer club of course, but the beer is in all good places.
  • Am I enjoying it? I am in the I like drinking beer kind of way.
  • Would I have another? I don’t love it enough to have another, but it was nice to tick it off.
  • Would I share with a friend on a porch and set the world to rights? No, it’s too complicated a beer to enjoy and annoying enough to spoil a conversation, the flavours and aroma would be distracting, and they don’t support a ‘good’ beer, and so it’s ether conversation or staring at a glass and wondering what it was you’re drinking.

Music for this:  well tonight it’s ” PinkShinyUltrablast”  with “Everything Else Matters”  on Spotify  


Any ale or lager made with herbs, spices or vegetables. The additive should be distinctive in the aroma. See beer description for flavor. Body, color, hop character and strength vary depending on the type of spice, herb or vegetable used


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