This beer was all kinds of surprising. As in, I looked at the label and assumed one thing (a Scottish ale). Then I took a sniff and thought another thing (barleywine). And when I finally sipped it, this beer wound up giving me something else entirely. I'm still working on what that is. One thing is sure: it's one heck of a tasty brew.
Beer Details: Red Rocket Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, California ("bastardized" Scottish-style red ale, 6.8% ABV, 67 IBU)
Appearance: This brew pours a deep and hazy mahogany with a sticky cap of mocha-colored foam on top.
Aroma: The first whiff is all sweet candy and caramel sauce. The second gives up a hint of fruitiness...raisins, perhaps. The third makes me wonder if I was just making up those aromas because all I can smell are bright citrusy hops.
Taste: An upfront wallop of sticky malts is quickly pushed aside by wave after wave of hops. Zowie, Batman! Those hops are fierce. Initially a mix of earthy and spicy flavors, they give a last kiss of lemony citrus and leave the tongue tingling. That malty backbone is all brown sugar and raisin with a dusting of cocoa powder. Medium-bodied and super smooth going down, this beer finishes fairly dry.
Do I like it? Unsure. It's definitely a well-crafted beer and it challenges expectations (always a fun thing). Personally, I could probably only drink one of these before either calling it a night or switching to something less aggressive.
Food Pairings: I'm thinking barbecue chicken with this one. Some sweet-hot BBQ sauce and tender chicken sounds like just the right companion for all the amped up flavors going on in this beer.
Have you ever had this beer? What do you think?
(Image: Emma Christensen)