Monday, May 9, 2011

Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic Review

Brewery: Boston Brewing Co. | Beer: Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic
Style: Fruit Beer| ABV: 5.9%
| IBUs: Unknown
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Samuel Adams Cranberry LambicHere we have a controversial beer, perhaps the most controversial yet on PintLog. Lambic-heads (such as yours truly) are a pretty fickle bunch, and God help anyone foolish enough to use the much vaunted Lambic title on something that doesn't truly deserve it. Unfortunately for Boston Brewing Company, that's just what they did with their Cranberry Lambic. Beer geeks have been crying foul ever since.

Now, I won't get into all the geeky details (check this article for said geeky details), but suffice it to say that this beer is simply not a Lambic. I usually just go ahead and list a beer with the style the brewer had in mind, but here I just can't bring myself to do it, so we're going with the catch-all Fruit Beer style instead. All that said, PintLog gives every beer a fair shot, so we'll review this with a neutral disposition, ignoring anything to do with style.

It's all rather moot anyway, as Cranberry Lambic is no longer available. It used to star prominently in the Sam Adams winter mixed pack, but was replaced in 2010 by Chocolate Bock. That ended quite a long run, as it was actually first brewed way back in 1990, back when you could get away with fudging styles a little more.

As with most of the special Sam Adams brews, Jim and the boys in Boston were not afraid of a deep ingredient bill. The backbone was built of Two-Row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland Pale malts, along with a helping of wheat. As for hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops did the deed. The yeast, perhaps the single most important component of a Lambic and the crux of the argument against this beer, used was W-68 Weissbier ale yeast. Special ingredients included New England cranberries and maple syrup.

Here's how they describe the finished product:

Tart and sweet, with complex fruit, maple, and vanilla notes. [...] The flavor [is] rich in fruitiness and reminiscent of cranberries, bananas, cloves, and nutmeg. The yeast fermentation also creates a slight sourness on the sides of the palate, reminiscent of the original lambic style. That sourness, along with the astringency of the cranberries, is combined with a subtle cereal note from the malted wheat. It reminds its drinker that, as fruity a beer as this is, it’s still a beer.
Let's give it a shot, shall we?

Appearance: A deep and hazy reddish-brown body capped by a finger of rose-tinged, creamy head that features good retention and lacing.

Aroma: Sweet, musty, and sour with lots of cranberry and raspberry juice.

Taste: Sweet fruit juice up from with some nice acidic and sour flavors that turn things tart in the finish. Those juicy fruit flavors certainly have some cranberry notes, but are just as much, if not more, berry-like. Underneath, a wheat-like malt backbone keeps everything grounded. The aftertaste is juicy and grainy, but just a little too brief.

Mouthfeel: A slightly fuller than medium and slightly syrupy body with mild carbonation. It finishes crisp and a little dry.

Drinkability: A little slower than average, mostly due to the mouthfeel.

Verdict: Sam Adams' Cranberry Lambic may not be a real Lambic, but it's still an enjoyable beer - just think of it as a wheat beer with a fruit twist. It's interesting enough and really worked well as part of the Winter mixed pack (once you got past the label).

Grade: B

Note: While this review is being published in 2011, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh in 2009.

Samuel Adams Cream Stout Review

Brewery: Boston Brewing Co. | Beer: Samuel Adams Cream Stout
Style: Milk/Sweet Stout | ABV: 4.9%
| IBUs: Unknown
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Samuel Adams Cream StoutFirst brewed way back in 1991, Sam Adams Cream Stout is a survivor. Sam Adams pitches this as "the cappuccino of beers." From what I can tell, there is no lactose added to the beer, so I believe they are handling those qualities with a clever malt bill.

Speaking of the malt bill, here it is: Two-Row Harrington, Metcalf, and Copeland Pale, Chocolate Malt, and Caramel 60 malts, along with malted wheat and roasted unmalted barley. As for hops, East Kent Goldings and English Fuggles get the job done.Brining it all alive is Sam Adams standard ale yeast. it goes through a standard warm ale fermentation, then undergoes a long cool

Here's how they describe the finished product:

Roasty, smooth and sweet [with] a fullness of body, a roasty malt character and rich, creamy head. Its dark, mahogany color makes it almost as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate.
My mouth is watering, so let's get started.

Appearance: A deep brown, almost black body with the barest hints of ruby and brown highlights when held up against the light. Up top, two fingers of pillowy caramel-tinged head with good retention and great lacing.

Aroma: The classic Stout aromas are all in full effect here: chocolate, coffee, and dark-roasted malt.

Taste: All of the same Stout standbys (chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt) with a good dose of lactic sourness thrown in. Towards the end, the mild hops come in to add some bitterness for added complexity. The aftertaste features a nice flourish of milk chocolate and then fades to bitter coffee.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with smooth carbonation. A creamy, slightly sweet finish.

Drinkability: If you're into Stouts, this is plenty sessionable.

Verdict: Samuel Adams' Cream Stout, like most Samuel Adams offerings, is a solid and tasty enough rendition of it's style. It's not a world-shaker by any means, but it's a very likable brew, and I'll be looking forward to it in future Sam Adams mixed packs.

Grade: B+

Full Sail LTD 02 Review

Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Co. | Beer: LTD 02
StyleMaibock/Helles Bock | ABV: 6.4% | IBUs: 32
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into Pilsener glass

Full Sail LTD 02Full Sail's LTD series is designed to give the brewers a chance to experiment. LTD doesn't just stand for limited, but for "Live the Dream," and each new beer is one in a series of small-batch brews available for a limited time only. The series is limited to lagers only, which I have to say its a pretty ballsy move.

The second beer in the series is LTD 02, a Maibock (or Helles Bock). The backbone is built with Two-Row Pale, Caramel, and Vienna malt, along with wheat. The hop bill consists of Czech Saaz and Styrian Goldings. Here's how Full Sail pitch the finished product:

A light-bodied nonetheless hella good limited edition lager that is golden colored with soft malt undertones and is nicely balanced with a crisp clean finish.
Sounds hella solid to me, let's get crackin'!

Appearance: A crystal-clear, golden-amber body. Up top, a creamy whitish head that features great retention and lacing. Very pretty.

Aroma: Mildly spicy hops over a bready malt base. Maybe some hints of booze if you go looking for it.

Taste: Biscuity, bready malt leads the charge. Towards the end, the mildly bitter and spicy hops show back up to help dry up the finish. The aftertaste is of biscuity malt and a few hints of bitterness. If I had to guess, I think I'd probably have flagged this as an Ale, rather than Lager.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. It dries a bit in the finish.

Drinkability: Rather sessionable I suppose, but I don't really see myself ordering a second.

Verdict: I have to say, this is just a little boring, especially for a limited edition beer. It's inoffensive enough, and might make for a decent gateway beer, but it's just too unremarkable for me.

Grade: C+

Note: While the review above is being posted in 2011, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh in 2008.

Full Sail Pale Ale Review

Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Co. | Beer: Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale | ABV: 5.4% | IBUs: 37
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Full Sail Pale AleEarlier today, we tried out one of Full Sail's core brews: their IPA. Now, it's time for another of those core brews, the Pale Ale. They're pretty proud of this one, describing it on their site as "the godlike nectar that is our Pale Ale." They also play up the concept of balance, which bodes well for the liquid in the bottle.

Full Sail keeps the the hop bill a secret for some reason, but does mention the malt bill consists of Two-Row Pale and Crystal. Anyway, here's how they describe the resulting brew.

Our Pale Ale has a fresh, hoppy aroma that comes from two (top secret) Northwest hop varieties, while two-row Pale and Crystal malt give it a mild sweetness that finishes clean and crisp.
Well, let's see if it's truly godlike, or a little more agnostic.

Appearance: A crystal-clear, golden-amber body with a finger of off-white head that features decent retention and lacing.

Aroma: Spicy, herbal, and nicely citrusy hops over toasty malt. The hops definitely have Pacific Northwest character.

Taste: It follows the aroma perfectly. Those citrusy and herbal Pacific NW hops on top of toasted caramel malt. The malt backbone is more than strong enough to match the hops, making it a balanced proposition. An herbal and toasty aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with good carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: With mild flavor, alcohol and mouthfeel, this is rather sessionable.

Verdict: While Full Sail Pale Ale may not be the most exciting Pale on the shelves, it certainly works. Overall, this seems like a nice combination of an English Pale Ale with a good dash of Pacific Northwest hop character thrown in.

Grade: B

Independence Jasperilla Old Ale 2008 Review

Brewery: Independence Brewing Co. | Beer: Jasperilla Old Ale 2008
Style: Old Ale | ABV: 9.3%
| IBUs: 29
Serving Method: 22 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Independence Jasperilla Old AleNamed after brewery founders Rob and Amy's dog Jasper, Jasperilla is Independence's biggest beer, and the only one to get the single-bottle treatment. Brewed once a year and aged for six months before release, Jasperilla is an Old Ale on a mission.

Independence note it's brewed using English Old Ale and Chico yeasts, but do not divulge the hop or malt bills. Regardless, here's how they describe the finished brew:

Brilliantly golden, Jasperilla is a unique take on an old ale. Biscuity malt flavors meld with subtle plum and berry notes.
Sounds like a good dog to me, let's give it a try. We're trying the 2008 release here, but these notes are from when it was still fresh

Appearance: A slightly hazy, and pumpkin-colored body with plenty of sediment in solution. On top, a finger and a half of creamy, off-white head that endures well and leaves decent lacing.

Aroma: A mix of various fruits (mostly apples and citrus) over sweet toffee-like malt with some whiffs of alcohol around the edges.

Taste: Golden fruit and citrus notes riding on top of a bold toffee-and-molasses malt backbone. Towards the end some woody flavors manifest themselves. The alcohol is much more present in the mouth than in the nose and compliments everything well. As for the aftertaste, it's nicely boozy and peppery.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with smooth carbonation and a dry finish. There's some slickness from the alcohol left in the mouth and just a hint of burn.

Drinkability: Definitely approaching sipper territory.

Verdict: I'm happy to report that this is quite a tasty and complex beer, and would be a great brew to enjoy with a cigar in the evening. I'll be cellaring a bottle for a year or so to see how it ages.

Grade: A-

Note: While the review above is being posted in 2011, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh.

Deschutes Red Chair NW Pale Ale

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery | Beer: Red Chair NW Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale | ABV: 6.2% | IBUs: 60
Serving Method: 22 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Deschutes Red Chair IPAOriginally known as Red Chair IPA, Deschutes' spring seasonal beer is now listed as an American Pale Ale and known as Red Chair NW Pale Ale. It's a move I support, as upon first sampling the beer when it was a special-release bomber, I felt it was much closer to an APA than an IPA.

Anyway, name and style aside, let's get into the nitty-gritty. The backbone consist of Northwest Two-Row Pale, Crystal, Carastan, Carapils, Munich, and Pilsener malts, while the hop bill is made up of Cascade and Centennial varieties. Deschutes describe the resulting brew as having "the citrus punch of a big IPA, minus the one-dimensional hop sledgehammer."

Sounds like a winner, lets dig in.

Appearance: A slightly hazy, rich red-orange body capped by over two fingers of creamy, off-white head that features fantastic retention and lacing.

Aroma: Bright, citrusy and piney hops over a caramel malt base.

Taste: Up front, lots of bright hops with citrus, pineapple, pine, and herbal notes. The hops are bold, but not overly bitter. Underneath, there's a biscuity caramel malt backbone keeping everything decently balanced. Just a mild hint of alcohol towards the end leading to a mildly bitter and biscuity finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with good carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: The 22 ounce bottle disappears quickly, making this a great session beer.

Verdict: Red Chair is a very tasty and sessionable brew, another in a long line of impressive beers from Deschutes. I totally agree that this slots into the APA category better than it does with the IPA category, but at the end of the day it's just the same great beer.

Grade: A-

Great Divide 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA Review

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co. | Beer: 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA
Style: American Double India Pale Ale | ABV: 10.0% | IBUs: 90
Serving Method: 22 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Great Divide 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPAAs Great Divide was founded in 1994, you might have noticed I'm a little late publishing this review. Fear not though, for the notes are based on a fresh sample back in 2009. Anyway, better late than never, right?

Anniversary brews are a good time to experiment, and it looks like Great Divide took that chance and ran with it. IPAs are best fresh, so it's not very often you see one that's been aged for any length of time. Based on the company's Denver Pale Ale, this Double IPA has been aged in American and French oak to create a unique flavor profile that Great Divide describe thusly:

Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla.
The resulting beer (and a candidate for the longest beer name ever): Great Divide 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA. Whew, that's a mouthful. Speaking of a mouthful, let's crack this puppy open and take a taste.

Appearance: A slightly hazy, deep reddish-orange body capped by three fingers of off-white head that fades slowly and leaves brilliant lacing.

Aroma: Vanilla and coconut notes from the aging over citrusy hops and a caramel malt base.

Taste: Up front, it's your standard Double IPA with a wave of nicely bitter, citrusy, and piney hops over a rich caramel backbone. Towards the end though, the vanilla shows back up along with some nice oakiness to give the whole thing an added dimension. There's plenty of booze throughout, but it never steps over the line. The aftertaste is citrusy and resiny with a splash of oakiness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with smooth carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: About average for the style, this is just shy of a full-on sipper.

Verdict: A fitting tribute to a great brewery, 15th Anniversary is essentially a solid Double IPA with plenty of added complexity coming from the aging process. It's too bad this is a one-off, as this is something I'd like to throw into the rotation.

Grade: A-


Note: While the review above is being posted in 2011, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh in 2009.

Murphy's Irish Stout Review

Brewery: Murphy's Brewery | Beer: Murphy's Irish Stout
Style: Irish Dry Stout | ABV: 4.0% | IBUs: Unknown
Serving Method: 16.9 oz. nitro-can poured into pint glass

Murphy's Irish StoutDating back to 1856, Murphy's Irish Stout is a beer with a lot of history. It's been brewed at the historic Murphy's Brewery (now known Heineken Brewery Ireland, Ltd.) in County Cork, Ireland for that entire stretch of time, which is no mean feat given the climate of the alcohol industry over the last fifty years.

Mostly a local beer until Murphy's was acquired by Heineken in 1983, Murphy's Irish Stout has grown into an international brand and established itself as the primary alternative for Guinness. It's known for being a little less bitter than Guinness and for sharing the same fascination with nitro bubbles.

Let's pop the widget and see how it stacks up, shall we?

Appearance: A dark brown, nearly black body with great red highlights. Up top, a beautifully dense tannish head that sticks around to the bottom of the pint, leaving beautiful lacing on the way down.

Aroma: Sweet, lightly grainy roasted malt with some light chocolate, coffee, and smoky tones.

Taste: A rather straightforward flavor profile consisting of a roasty malt backbone with nuttiness, a little chocolate, and some mildly sour, almost lactic-like notes mixed in. The aftertaste is roasty with just a hint of smoke.

Mouthfeel: A creamy, medium-light to medium body with smooth nitro bubbles and a drying finish.

Drinkability: An easy to drink and very sessionable brew.

Verdict: Murphy's Irish Stout is a cheerful enough Irish Dry Stout, though really nothing new if you've ever tried Guinness. So, if you're a Guinness fan looking for something just a little different, this might just be the beer for you to try next.

Grade: B

Full Sail IPA Review

Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Co. | Beer: IPA
Style: English India Pale Ale | ABV: 6.0% | IBUs: 60
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Full Sail IPAFounded in 1987 in Hood River Oregon, Full Sail was the first successful retail microbrewery in the Pacific Northwest, helping pave the way for the region to become one of the meccas of beer. Today, Full Sail is still a leader in the craft beer space, ranking as the 18th largest craft brewery in 2010.

While their Amber is the flagship brew, I decided to start off with their IPA, as that's usually a pretty good measure of a West Coast brewery. Unusually, it's an English-style IPA, brewed with two-row pale malt and hopped with Challenger and East Kent hops. Here's how Full Sail describe the finished product:

[A] well-balanced, golden-colored brew that has a crisp hop finish that doesn't bite. With its palate cleansing finish, IPA is a perfect for highly spiced dishes with curry, ginger, garlic or cumin.
Sounds like a refreshing brew, let's dive in.

Appearance: A crystal-clear, golden-amber body capped by two fingers of off-white head that sticks around a while and leaves good lacing.

Aroma: Citrusy and earthy hops over rich, caramel malt. Very much an English style IPA.

Taste: Up front it's mildly bitter, eathy, herbal, and citrusy hops. Underneath, a lightly toasted caramel malt backbone provides plenty of balance. Perhaps a little too balanced if this were an American IPA, but acceptable for the English style. The aftertaste is toasty and just a little juicy.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with sharp carbonation. Dries in the finish.

Drinkability: Full Sail have brewed up a very sessionable IPA here.

Verdict: A decent English style IPA, but to be honest, generally unexciting. If you've never tried an English style IPA, this would be a good way to see what some of the differences are.

Grade: B

Avery The Maharaja Imperial IPA Review

Brewery: Avery Brewing Co. | Beer: The Maharaja Imperial IPA
Style: American Double India Pale Ale | ABV: 10.3% | IBUs: 102
Serving Method: 22 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Avery The MaharajaOne of the more popular Double IPAs on the market today, Avery's The Maharaja was a major score when it landed in the Texas market a few years back. Produced from March through August, The Maharaja is part of Avery's Dictator Series of imperial-style brews, along with The Kaiser and The Czar.

The Maharaja is no fey dictator, as it hits the magic 10%+ alcohol content and 100+ IBU numbers. The substantial hop bill consists of Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, and Chinook varieties. As for the malt base, Two-row barley, Caramel 120L, and Victory are employed. Here's how Avery describe the resulting despot:

With hops and malts as his servants, he rules both with a heavy hand. The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley - fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.
Sounds good to me, let's venture into this kingdom, shall we?

Appearance: A nearly clear orange-amber body with lots of sediment in solution. On top, a generous ivory-colored head that endures until the end of the glass, leaving excellent lacing (especially given the high alcohol content).

Aroma: There's certainly no mistaking this for anything but a Double IPA. Up front, a massive wave of potent Northwestern hops with the classic floral, piney, and citrusy characteristics. Underneath, a solid caramel malt base and plenty of booze.

Taste: Wow, this is big. Once again, the hops lead the charge and exhibit brilliant piney, resiny, and citrusy (mostly grapefruit) flavors. It's not a total hop-bomb blowout though, as the biscuity caramel malt backbone and brawny alcohol content are able to keep everything relatively balanced. While it's certainly a bitter beer, and I don't doubt the over 100 IBU rating for a second, the bitterness can be deceptively mellow at times. The aftertaste is strong and dominated by bitter, grapefruity hop flavors.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation and a dry finish. You can certainly feel the booze in the mouth and throat, but they are pleasant sensations. The resiny hops tend to coat the mouth, giving the bitter aftertaste lots of life.

Drinkability: With a massive flavor profile, over ten percent alcohol content, and a full body, this is certainly a "sip-and-contemplate" beer. That being said, I had no trouble whatsoever devouring all 22 ounces in one sitting.

Verdict: As I had expected, with over 100 IBUs and 10% alcohol content, Maharaja is a massive beer. This is your typical big, untamed, unleashed Double IPA with a massive hop character, but a solid enough malt backbone to keep everything in check. This is only the second Avery beer I've tried, but I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed so far.

Grade: A

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Allagash Curieux 2009 Review

Brewery: Allagash Brewing Co. | Beer: Curieux 2009
Style: Tripel | ABV: 11.0% | IBUs: Unknown
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into tulip glass

Allagash CurieuxWe had a bit of sad news here in Texas recently when Allagash announced they were pulling out of bunch of states, including ours. I've only had one Allagash brew so far (maybe that's why they're leaving!), so I figured  I should post up the review as a farewell. The good news is, it's a hell of a beer.

First, a little overview of Allagash. Founded in Portland, Maine in 1994 by Rob Tod as a fifteen barrel brewery with one beer, Allagash has come a long way, establishing itself as one of America's top Belgian-style breweries. They now brew a stable of regular beers, along with a long list of specialities, all of them bottle conditioned. Losing them from the Texas market stings, but I guess if you snooze, you lose.

In 2004, Allagash launched their Barrel Aged series with Curieux, a big Tripel aged for eight weeks in Jim Beam barrels. The brewery claims the beer picks up notes of soft coconut and vanilla along with the bourbon. Sounds like a perfectly planned beer, right? Turns out, that's not exactly the case.

According to Tod, as recounted in a post Washington City Paper, it originally sprang from a bottle shortage. A batch of Tripel was ready for bottling, but unfortunately the bottles were held up in customs. Instead of dumping the beer, they decided to age the beer in some Jim Beam barrels that had recently arrived. While they didn't have high hopes at first, the resulting beer was good enough to keep making, eventually kicking off the Barrel Aged series.

Let's satisfy out curieux-sities and jump in, eh?

Appearance: A bright and hazy golden-orange body capped by over two fingers of fluffy near-white head that features good retention and decent lacing.

Aroma: All of the usual citrus and spice notes you'd expect from a Tripel mixed with plenty of booze around the edges and some vanilla and whiskey notes presumably imparted during the barrel aging process.

Taste: It's fruity, spicy, and bready like most Tripels, but there's far more complexity to come. You certainly don't have to look far to find plenty of oak and whiskey notes, unlike some barrel-aged beers I've tried. That eleven percent alcohol is present throughout and adds plenty of additional spiciness, but never seems out of place. Booze, whiskey, and vanilla come together in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy with smooth carbonation. There's a few hints of burn from the alcohol profile, but it's all rather deceptively smooth. Dries up in the finish.

Drinkability: A beer crafted for savoring, to be sure.

Verdict: Curieux is quite a special beer; it's essentially a damn good Tripel accompanied (not dominated) by complex barrel and alcohol character. If I had the funds, I'd secure some bottles for cellaring, as I'm sure this just gets better with age.

Grade: A

Note: While the review above is being posted in 2011, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh in 2009.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale Review

Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Co. | Beer: Hop Head Red Ale
Style: American Red Ale | ABV: 6.0% | IBUs: 45
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Green Flash Hop Head Red AleThe first Green Flash brew I sampled here on PintLog was their flagship West Coast IPA, which I absolutely loved, so I was excited to pick up their American Red Ale, Hop Head Red.

These guys are known for their typically west-coast hoppy beers, so there's no doubt this is going to be a hoppy red. In fact, Green Flash themselves imply this might be more of a red/IPA hybrid.

The brewery only reveals that it's dry hopped with Amarillos, but others online have speculated that Chinooks are used for bittering. They describe the beer thusly: "Resinous hop character and bitterness balance the rich caramel malt base."

You guys ready for a red-head?

Appearance: A deep orange-brown body with a hell of a lot of sediment in solution. Up top, a finger and a half of pillowy, caramel-tinged head that features great retention and lacing.

Aroma: Just as the bottle leads you to expect: lots of Amarillo hops on top of a solid caramel base. Good stuff.

Taste: More of the same. Up front, citrusy, nicely bitter hops. Underneath, the caramel malt backbone is strong enough to keep everything from being unbalanced. The aftertaste is of bitter grapefruit.

Mouthfeel: Perhaps a little fuller than medium and smooth with moderate carbonation. Dry finish.

Drinkability: As long as you aren't afraid of hops, this is pretty sessionable brew.

Verdict: Well, the bottle really says it all, this is a generously Amarillo hopped Red Ale with a lots of caramel malt. It may blur the line between Red Ale and Pale Ale a bit, but who cares?

Grade: A