Beer: Imperial Red Ale
Brewery: Lavery Brewing Company
Style: American Amber Ale
Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
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.
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.