Friday, March 14, 2014

#19 Irish Red Ale - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 5.1%
Serving Temp: 45F
Grade: A-

Well this beer is certainly an odd duck.  I can't say I know what to make of it, so I guess I'll just have to have another.  And maybe another if that doesn't do the trick.  I don't know if I've had a beer quite like it.  Maybe somewhere between Smithwick's (sans the iron flavor when cold) and my hazy memories of Red Trolley, but then folded back in on itself.  It's not quite bold enough to elicit a strong reaction.  I desperately want to have something to say here, some sort of dramatic opinion, but it's too cohesive and mild to really feel comfortable dissecting it in detail.  If I would just shut up and drink it I would remember that it's a really nice, well-rounded beer, but that's not much of a blog post.  Anyway, here goes:

The primary flavors are a balance of the chocolaty bitterness from the roast malt against the fruity esters from the yeast.  At first the chocolate seemed most prominent, but as the beer warms, the fruitiness elbows its way to the front with a hint of toffee flitting around the edges, until finally the flavors meld into a nice caramel as it approaches room temperature.  That sounds extremely pretentious, but only because it is.  I challenge you to try the beer and come up with a better description yourself.

Overall I'm again pretty pleased with this batch.  I feel like I've really gotten the hang of making good beer, but the next step is to get the hang of making really good beer.  It's solid, and should be an easy sell at our St. Patrick's Day party, but it doesn't quite capture the intense, dry caramel flavor I imagined.  (I guess that makes it more true to its Irish heritage though.)  The color is a shade darker than I hoped as well, and--as you can see--significantly more hazy.

I'll have to work my way to the bottom of the keg before I decide how this rates and whether it justifies another attempt.  It's definitely an intriguing semi-session beer, but with summer coming I think that slot on the kegerator will likely be filled with hoppy American wheats and pale ales.  To those of you who try this beer, please feel free to drop your thoughts below.  I'm curious to see what comes up besides "good," "awesome," and a polite if transparent "ok."

UPDATE 4/1/14:
Now that I've had some time to drink about this beer--I mean think--I have to say this beer is definitely a win.  It may even be my best yet, hard to say.  It's so well balanced, and though it's reserved, is actually more flavorful than some of the the commercial examples I've had since.  (Field research, very important.)  This is the first beer I've brewed that I can really say stands up to what I intended, even if it's not yet perfect.

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