Wednesday, January 2, 2013

051. Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Inasmuch as tomorrow is Veteran's Day, I thought I'd break from the dark shadows of Halloween and the bounty of harvest beers, but still enjoy something dark as the earth spins ever nearer toward the solstice. In a bit of a stretch, I decided to honor those who have served by tipping back a glass with an ale inspired by the words from our National Anthem, "by the rockets red glare..."

That much justification aside, I'm now sitting here sipping Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale. As I said, the patriotic theme is a bit of a stretch, but my enjoyment of this ale is not. This is particularly enjoyable because I was very concerned that I wouldn't like it because of the description from the label:

Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale packed with distinctive flavors an an aggressive hop character riveled by none. This unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, amber colored ale breaks all style molds.
Keep refrigerated, beer is perishable, real ale is alive, yeast is good, serve at 45-50 degrees F.
I was very concerned that this ale would be dominated by hops, much like a powerful IPA is. This fear was reinforced when I took a whiff after popping the top on the bottle. All I smelled were hops and alcohol (a quick glance at the label revealed it has an ABV of 6.8% -- pretty heady stuff). But I was pleasantly surprised once I actually took a sip.

At 50 degrees F, it was quite smooth and poured a beautiful dark red that was remarkably clear considering the yeast comment on the label. The head was light brown and barely one-finger thick -- it and the lace were not really very memorable.

The taste, however, was quite memorable. The hops were there and they did dominate the malt more than I care for, but there were other flavors at play below the surface. I almost never use the word "pine" to describe beer, but that word does apply here. Also, and this is odd because these two flavors don't go together well, but a hint of mint mixed in with a citrus nip that I would best describe as orange. When it's all done, the mouthful is surprisingly dry. I say surprising because I'm not used to getting a light caramel aftertaste in such a dry ale. After it settled in my mouth for a minute, I was finally aware of the malt. It's there as a supporting character doing an important-but-underappreciated role in the t

Finishing off the bottle
I only picked up one bottle of this, which is a shame because I'd like to run some more tests on it (he he heh -- yup, it's all int the name of science). As it is, I tested this at 48 and 50 degrees, and found that it definitely does taste better in that range. At least to me. However, I think hops-happy drinkers might prefer the tanginess that comes alive when this ale is between 55-59 degrees. It develops a bit more "bite" at that point, which I know hops heads would like.

I think this is a really pleasant ale and I'm very glad I used it to toast my friends who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines (I don't mention the Coast Guard because I don't have any personal friends who served there). And I thank them and everyone before and after them who served. I wouldn't be here today if not for them... none of us would.

This particular beer, as good as it is, is a bit too dry and piney for my taste. I wouldn't turn it down in a bar or with good company, but it's not one I would seek out on its own. It's very good, but not great.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Red Ale
Color: Rich red, crystal clear
Aroma: Hops and alcohol
Hops: Strong but not too overpowering; piney and aromatic
Malt: Lurking below the surface
Head: Quarter-inch, mostly thick light brown, but fades quickly
Lace: Almost none
Carbonation: Low
Mouthfeel:  Very dry and a little chalky
Temeprature Sweet Spot: 45-50 degrees F (for more hops flavor, let it warm to 55-59)
ABV: 6.8%
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
The fellers over at Beer Advocate enjoyed this more than I did, but they tend to prefer hops-heavy beers over there:

Happy New Year!

Well, those pesky Mayans were proved wrong and the world did not end in 2012 (neither at the solstice nor the start of our calendar year).

I need to apologize a bit for my absence of late. Around Halloween things really got crazy and I started missing my blog-post dates. And like any good habit, once you miss it more than once, it's dangerously easy to start missing it a lot.

But now that the crazy holiday season has finally wound up (don't get me wrong -- we had fun, but we were hopping from one party to event to gathering for almost 10 weeks straight!), I can get back to the serious business of drinking some new beers.

First I'm going to go back and fill in a few old reviews that I started but had not finished, then I'll move on to the new material for the new year.

Talk to ya soon!