Don’t let your uncle tell you how he misses old fashioned beers like Bud Light. A pilsener is newfangled nonsense. These sour, dark, smokey, high alcohol, spicy, herbally bitter, witchy, healthful brews were the original beers. They were called gruits.
We get the essence of the taste of the tree without the tannins of the wood itself, and the bigness of the beer without the oiliness of a huge grain bill. We’re back to a syrup koan: the essence of the birch is kept, but the tricky business of the body is excluded.
Honeys, saps, and syrups lighten the body of a beer. Paradoxically, they prevent beer from getting syrupy and gelatinous.