Red Ale

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster

Beer: Big Hoppy Monster
Brewery:
 Terrapin Beer Company
Style: Imperial Red Ale
ABV: 9.1%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

BEERUSEBEERUSEBEERUSE

Sight: Opaque, muddy brown body with a tiny, frothy head.

Smell: This is one of those beers that you can smell across a room. Despite its label, this Red Ale smells alarmingly akin to a Belgian Dubbel Ale, with its sugary, syrupy aroma with dried and rotting fruits of the raisin, prune, and fig variety. There is also a hint of port and caramelized caramel. So, what I’m saying is that this beer smells sweet.

Flavor: Well, this isn’t any Red Ale I recognize. Instead, it tastes like some sort of Porter-Belgian hybrid. The prominent flavors are bakers chocolate, burnt coffee, caramel, and figs. There is a bite from the high ABV and a subdued hop flavor–shocking, given it’s name (Big Hoppy Monster).

Feel: Medium, oily  body with moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark: This 2 variations (Red and Amber) on 1 style (Amber) in 2 months (January & February) deal should end with an alcoholic bang. Terrapin’s Big Hoppy Monster, an oak-aged Imperial Red Ale, certainly fits that bill at 9.1% ABV. However, a Red Ale–a balanced ale that leans slightly in the hops direction–this is not. Perhaps Terrapin mislabeled this bottle? Instead of a bright, well-hopped ale, Big HOPPY Monster instead tastes like a highly alcoholic glass of dirt. The bakers chocolate paired with burnt coffee and whatever hops Terrapin used translates to the flavor of earth. Not EARTHY flavor, but literally, the taste of soil. It must be noted, though, that the OAK-AGED Big Hoppy Monster is different than the regular Big Hoppy Monster. An ale that is oak-aged will be sweeter and syrupy-er than it would be no-oak. I’d like to think that the Big Hoppy Monster actually tastes like a Red Ale.

At 9.1%, this beer has the highest ABV of the month. For that, I will forgive Terrapin for not serving a classical Red Ale. There is no such thing as a 9.1% classical Red Ale. While I’m missing the ‘Hoppy’ in Big Hoppy Monster, Terrapin delivers on the ‘Big’ and ‘Monster’ in Big Hoppy Monster. Despite the high ABV, it’s highly drinkable. However,  if you do find yourself with a bottle of this in hand, please remember that it is not characteristic of a Red Ale.

Stay tuned…we will be reviewing the BEST AMBER ALE AND BEER OF ALL TIME this weekend and announcing next month’s style on Monday!

malthop

Categories: Amber Ale, Red Ale | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Flying Fish Red Fish

Beer: Red Fish
Brewery:
 Flying Fish Brewing Company
Style: American Red Ale
ABV: 7.0%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

BEERUSEBEERUSEBEERUSEbeeruse-copy

Sight: Deep copper body with a huge foamy beige head. Like the Shark Attack, Red Fish is brimming with yeast particulates. Ick. It looks like there’s a gang of hyperactive plankton in there.

Smell: The nose on this ale is impressively complex. Like My Bloody Valentine, there are wafts of juicy, citrus hops followed by a sweet milk chocolate malt aroma.

Flavor: This is one snappy fish. There is an overpowering bitterness from a grapefruit flavor that is only somewhat balanced by a burnt, bakers chocolate taste from the malts. As I keep drinking it, this bizarre grapefruit chocolate combination starts to make sense.

Feel: Medium body with intense carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Shark Attack, Red Fish…what is it about Red Ales that screams “I’M A SEA CREATURE”?  I’m comfortable letting that provocative question disappear into the deep blue sea. Though, the more I drink Red Fish, the more it begins to taste like a bitter, salty gulp of ocean water. Flying Fish douses their Red Ale with three types of hops:  Chinook, Columbus, and Cascade. The Cascade provides that grapefruit citrus flavor, while the salty, earthy  taste is attributed to the Chinook and Columbus hops. All in all, this is not for those who fear a turbulent tsunami of bitter hops. An intense ale, East Coast Flying Fish from New Jersey does a decent West Coast-style Red Ale. Bravo, dudes.

malthop

Categories: Amber Ale, Red Ale | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Ale

Beer: My Bloody Valentine Ale
Brewery:
 AleSmith Brewing Company
Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 6.66%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

BEERUSEBEERUSEBEERUSEBEERUSEbeeruse-copy

Sight: Crimson, dried blood colored body with a huge sticky, foaming head.

Smell: This smells like hops incarnate. I would even go as far to say that this is one of the most aromatic and floral smelling beers ever. If you continue to sniff at it–and you might even if you’re not a weirdo beer smeller like me–you will start getting wafts of milk chocolate of the Russell Stover variety. Smarmy doily box included.

Flavor: The smell sets you up to think that you’re about to taste one of the hoppiest beers of all time. Sadly for some and a wave of relief for others, you’re in for a surprise. The initial flavor is a sugary caramel taste. Just as you become accustomed to that pleasant flavor, there is a sharp floral hop taste that beats that sugar flavor to a bloody pulp. At that very moment, a cheap Valentine’s Day chocolate flavor kicks in until a final wave of  bitter hops dropkicks you in the throat . The chocolate and hops flavors bicker for awhile, each trying to have the final word, um, taste. In the end, just like a breakup and the end of the good beer, there is no winner. Instead, all that you’re left with is the memory of what was and you’re stuck trying to make sense of the last six months, I mean, six minutes.  There is no resolve because there is nothing to hold on to…just a feeling, uh, I mean, taste.

Feel: Smooth, full body with moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark: My Bloody Valentine is the wondrous San Diego-based AleSmith’s seasonal beer. Apparently this is a cousin of their  Evil Dead Red Ale. Could this brewery be anymore amazemo? If My Bloody Valentine tastes like hops + chocolate, I’m morbidly curious what  _____ + hops equals Evil Dead Red.

Let me just say, this 6.66% ale is phenomenal. This is the first time I’ve tried an ale this hoppy that also has a striking chocolate flavor. While My Blood Valentine has the hop profile of an Amber/Red Ale, as you keep drinking it, it begins to acquire caramel, raspberry, and cherry flavors. I do believe that this is one of the more unique beers I have tried.

My Bloody Valentine Ale is axing its way into my heart.

Regardless of its overall bizarreness, this is one hella good beer; there are no two ways around that. It’s a one way ticket in the “hell yes” direction. Sadly, those on the East Coast won’t be able to find this beer–I purchased it during a recent stint on the West Coast. HOWEVER. I have one more bottle, and in the spirit of My Blood Valentine’s Day, I am willing to share it. Inquire within. Especially if you are Kevin Shields. Extra especially if you are Kevin Shields ca. 1990.

ks, b mine, pls.

ks, b mine, pls.

Just like when we all queued  up the Dark Side of the Moon to the Wizard of Oz in college, if you drink My Bloody Valentine to Loveless from start to end, you will reach a slightly euphoric state. So, this Valentine’s Day, instead of looking for a valentine at your local bar at 11:58pm, pick up My Bloody Valentine and listen to My Bloody Valentine. And if that’s not possible because you don’t live in California and your Loveless CD is scratched beyond all repair just like your last relationship, just drink a beer. The end. Happy bloody Valentine’s Day.
Categories: Amber Ale, Red Ale | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Lavery Brewing Imperial Red Ale

Beer: Imperial Red Ale
Brewery:
 Lavery Brewing Company
Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 8.2%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

BEERUSEBEERUSEBEERUSEbeer 75

Sight: Putting the red in red ale, the body is an opaque deep garnet with a silky beige head.

Smell: I literally had to snort this beer to pick up any scent (it’s not gross or weird I swear). After doing so, I can assuredly say that there’s a metallic scent that blankets the grassy, slightly medicinal hop and sweet french toast malt aromas. Darn you, lingering metallic scent!

Flavor: The hops manifest in the form of a feeling (a very sharp feeling) instead of developing a distinguishable flavor. The malts are immediately tamed by this sharp feeling, but are rather complex if you can get past the bitterness. It begins to taste like root beer doused with herbal hops. There’s an unexpected–and welcomed–bark-like taste with that minty, cooling feeling of a root or birch beer.

Feel: Medium body with an alarming amount of carbonation. Eek, the back of my throat! It tickles!

Concluding Remark: So this is when I announce that I am going to quickly transition to Red Ales for the last two weeks of this chilly month. This mid-month shake-up was inspired by the dearth of Amber Ale options in the NY/NJ area, as well as the observation that the term ‘Red Ale’ seems to be interchangeable with ‘Amber Ale.’ Trust me, I don’t like it either. Lavery Brewing Company from Erie, PA provides us with the perfect moniker-challeneged beer to get the last half of this month started. Their Imperial Red Ale, a self-proclaimed Amber Ale, certainly has some Amber characteristics. Which is it, Lavery, an Amber or a Red? And I guess more importantly, what IS a Red Ale and how does it differ from an Amber?

[Oh and to make style matters even more confusing, Lavery also calls the Imperial Red Ale--or IRA --an "Irish Red" ale (har, har), which is neither an Amber Ale or a Red Ale. OY!]

After extensive consultation with the beer-gods-that-be, a Red Ale is redder than an Amber Ale. ENLIGHTENMENT ATTAINED! The additional redness is achieved by using different grains. However, it would seem, begrudgingly, that even the Beer Judge Certification Program (or BJCP) definition of Amber Ale and Red Ale are synonymous.

one of the many beer-gods-that-be.

one of the many beer-gods-that-be.

And of course, what we have here is an IMPERIAL Red/Amber Ale. Beer-gods-that-be proclaim that an Imperial Red/Amber should be able to fight an Imperial IPA head-to-head in the hops category and outperforms the IPA in the malt category. So how does Lavery’s Imperial Red Ae measure up? As this sits, it begins to taste more like birch beer in a really surprising and delicious way. Oh, and at 8.2%, the alcohol is nearly undetectable. If you’re looking for a hoppy ale that is slightly different than those to which you’re accustomed, I definitely recommend checking out Lavery’s IRA ASAP.

For the record, there is nothing Irish about this ale despite its acronym. An Irish Red Ale is generally lightly hopped with a sweet and dry roasted malt flavor. To their credit, they do call it an “Irish beer gone incognito.”

OH STYLES YOU SO CRAZY. So, uh, with that….welcome to the rest of February, or RED ALE HALF MONTH.

malthop

Categories: Amber Ale, Red Ale | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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