Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Total Score: 7.75/10 Caramel1Earth1Flowers1Nonicpint1

Sorry Bear Republic I’ve got to get this out, this is some weird catharsis for me: “And the red rocket ale, the beers bursting in kegs, gave proof through the night that our stein was still there; O say does that half barrel still provide more ale, O the land of the cream [ale] and the home of the IPAaaaa!” Play ball. So yeah, now that that is out of the way, lately I’ve been reviewing Red Ale/IPAs (they’re pretty indivisible styles so I lump them into 1) and I noticed that one of the biggest of US Red Ales recently popped into my local, so here we are: Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale. It’s about time I got my grubby [actually I just cleaned them] hands on this essential Red Ale… bottoms up?!

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep brown/amber body (think Mahogany – like my leather bound books) with a disappointing thin tan sea foam head. The body is a suitably impressive colour, but that weak sea foam head is doing it no favours. 7/10.

S: Brown sugar, dark fruits, molasses forward on the nose – yes this has travelled far to reach me, not expecting a Pulitzer prize list of hops here but something would be good. Hints of caramel as well… Something floral/lightly citrus in there as well, Mr. Hops I presume? 7/10.

T: Malty: burnt caramel/molasses/brown sugar… you get the picture. Behind all that malt there is a light floral/earthy/citric hop character that helps even everything out. Aftertaste has a bit of astringency and a medium bitterness. If you think of it as a straight Scottish Red Ale with an American spin (i.e. the hops) as stated on the label then it definitely fits the brief – though the hops are lacking from some of the Australian Red Ales I’ve tried recently. Still pretty damn tasty though. 8/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a thin but burpy, err, dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: Overall nice but not as exciting as at least 3 Aussie Red Ales I can think of off the top of my head. That said this was one of the first American Red Ales out there and a trailblazer in that class, so credit where credit is due… in this case: here and now. Will I ever drink it again having access to some great Red Ales here in Oz? Well, no, probably not, unless I was staying in California and could get this fresh on tap. I guess that’s the problem with trailblazer beers like this – they blaze the trail but then they’re stuck and can’t change (lest they piss off a great many of their fans – like the singer who has to keep singing the same song over and over). 8/10.

Food match: Beefy and stewy and BBQy is the meal ticket here.


KAIJU! Beer Hopped Out Red Ale

Total Score: 8.6/10 Earth1Caramel1HopFlower1Nonicpint1

My peeps all know how much respect I have for KAIJU!-we-only-brew-expensive-beers-Beer. As such it is pretty amazing that I’ve taken so long to get around to Hopped Out Red Ale, being that I am somewhat besotted by Red Ales or Red IPAs in the guise of favourites by Modus Operandi and Prancing Pony (off the top of my head). I guess I was just waiting for a local (bottle-o) to chuck it in their fridge before being drawn to their ludicrously colourful flat-design labels [which judging by my BeerAdvocate profile photo I am a fan of]. So now it’s time to see if KAIJU! can beat the likes of Modus and Prancing Pony, in my eyes, at this Red Ale game.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Love the colour of this: Deep hazed auburn-almost-burgundy body, with a nice thin beige head that slowly dissolves to a splotchy covering. 9/10.

S: Here’s where Red Ale/Red IPAs come to the fore for me: Hop/malt balance. Which, if done right, is spot on. Hopped Out Red Ale is no exception with a luscious gooey caramel/biscuit malt centre, and some borderline-aggressive jammy-marmalade orange and piney hop characters to balance it out. Sweetness wins out ever so slightly on this epic aroma. 9/10.

T: Flavour throws that interesting, and very KAIJU!, spanner into the works with an overall earthy taste that softens the blow of both the malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Surprisingly in-your-face and balanced at the same time. Flavours are: Earthy, caramel/biscuit malts, piney/orange hops, with a finish that exudes more earth and viscous hop oils that linger on in the aftertaste, which is fairly bitter. Considering this one is the lightest in ABV out of the Modus/Prancing offerings, at 6.5%, it is surprisingly BIG. 9/10.

M: Rather decent, mid to heavy bodied, with those aforementioned viscous hop oils sliding all over the palate. Carbonation is dense but quite thin and lacking. 7/10.

D: Another really top shelf beer from KAIJU! Beer, but that is expected from those guys/girl (all 3 of them!). So yeah this gets a hearty recommendation from me and once again adds to the list of truly epic Australian Red Ale/IPAs from some rather intelligent and hardy craft brewers. If you love hops [like me], and you love malt [like me], then Red IPAs are where “it” is at. If I had to place the biggest point of difference between this, Modus, and Prancing’s offerings it would be that earthy character KAIJU! are known for [with me at least]. 8/10.

Food match: Something meaty/earthy, like a steak that has been rubbed in dirt.


Mismatch Archie’s Red Ale

Total Score: 6.4/10 Caramel1Honeycomb1Earth1Nonicpint1

Next up on board the Mismatch train is Archie’s Red Ale. After their Session Ale, which was ironically a mismatch for me as I love my beers BIG* (as you should well know by now, tisk-tisk) Archie’s Red Ale could be the correctly-matched saviour to my qualms. However – and this is a ‘HOWEVER’ in caps – it lists rye as one of the malts. Now don’t get me wrong: I love rye. In fact one of my pet peeves is for brewers to say a beer has rye in it and for me not to taste earthy/peppery rye. Don’t let me down with a wry mismatch Mismatch.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: More of a brown than a red, there is a style called ‘Brown Ale’ Mismatch (just saying), cloudy russet hue body with a decent 1 centimetre off-white head that sticks around pretty well. Colour not being red the only major drawback in this “Red Ale”. 6/10.

S: Caramel sweetness mingles with earthy tones, a light honey note and some malt as well… definitely slanted in the Amber Ale/Red Ale territory, which is good. Not really getting any hops on the nose either. Still it’s a pretty alluring aroma. 7/10.

T: Starts out earthy and dusty (rye’s hand in this brew) then mid palate hints of caramel/honeyed sweetness (though it could definitely hit with more of this), it’s towards the finish where flavour simply vanishes with dryness that feels a bit amiss. TBH it started out OK, then became progressively better before dropping off the palate completely. As per the Session Ale: More flavour would be great. Mid palate really hints at something grand – I want more of that caramel/honey goodness! Hops? Not noticeable – but that’s fine as this works better as a sweet beer anyhow. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a thin but dense carbonation which works well. 8/10.

D: So far there’s a running theme with these Mismatch brews: Needs more flavour. I’m about to write up the Extra Pale Ale and I’m hoping/wishing/praying/kwanzaing that Mismatch have nailed a hop profile in that beer. Their website says: “this is an ode to the English…” I only got that far before I mouthed a word that starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘k’. Which is a big shame because both of these brews are promising but far too timid for me. 6/10.

Food match: Stew (beef is a good option), throw in some crusty bread too.

*Bearing Immense Gusto, or Delectation… but BID doesn’t work as well IMO.



Newstead Wastelands Red Rye Ale

Total Score: 6.55/10 Biscuit1Lemon1Peppercorns1Nonicpint1

The latest batch of Newstead’s limited release beers is a Red Rye Ale. Now if you’ve been reading my reviews for a while you’ll know there is one thing I hate (other than macros, of course) are half-assed Rye beers. If you put “Rye” on a label it better taste like there was Rye in the malt bill, none of this wishy-washy “hint of spice” crap, I want dirty/earthy/spicy notes aplenty! I want to be sickened with Rye-overload! Now, time to see if Newstead can pull up their socks and redeem themselves from being one of Brisbane’s most average craft brewers – or will they fail? [they will likely fail with this one]

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy deep amber/brownish body with a nice 1 centimetre off-white head that leaves some decent lace on the side of the glass. Strike one on the colour though – hardly what one would consider to be ‘red’ without an Instagram filter. 6/10.

S: Citrus/stonefruit hops with *gasp* a hint of spice. Yep, another f@&king wishy-washy Rye beer… I didn’t doubt it would be piss weak on the Rye like nearly every Rye beer ever made, but somehow I expected… well not more from Newstead, but about the same – disappointing. Second whiff reveals a clearly barley malt biscuit base – no surprises there. Overall aroma isn’t bad at all, just not enough Rye for this white guy [give it to me baby – aha, aha]. 6/10.

T: Peppery notes front palate ease into some biscuit/caramel malts, then follows through to a citrus/stonefruit hop finish – which is mid to light bitterness. Sweet/Bitter balance is a touch on the sweet side until the aftertaste when it leaves a bit of a classy bitter dump on the tongue. This would almost pass as a straight American IPA… a Rye beer though? No. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied with a bit of stickiness and a light but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Hey it may not live up to the Rye promise but it’s not terrible… though that lingering bitterness in the aftertaste is distracting. Another run-of-the-mill craft brew from Newstead (who did surprisingly well with The Outpost American Stout) obviously The Outpost was an anomaly in their catalogue of average beers. If this wasn’t classified as a Rye beer, and it didn’t have the bitter aftertaste that overstayed it’s welcome like some sort of derelict unmarried uncle, Newstead might have produced something worth a second taste… oh well. 6/10.

Food match: Newstead was doing this beer with a Reuben sandwich – I missed out on that one.


Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar Anti-Imperial Red Ale

Total Score: 7.85/10 GreenMelon1 Peach1 Caramel1 Nonicpint1

Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar Anti-Imperial Red Ale – Now that’s a mouthful (so is the beer) *punchline drum roll* So turns out Noisy Minor are from my former hood of Brisbane, possibly the best city in Australia… after maybe Melbourne… forget about Sydney (not even close). Anyway I’m always big on supporting my local craft brewers so when I spied this in the hallowed grounds of The Durham Arms I must admit I was quietly chuffed that a small Brisbane brewer had got a keg on tap in Canberra. The beer itself is described as “not an IPA, just a big hoppy red ale”, hence the Anti-Imperial part – although the “I” in IPA stands for “India” not “Imperial”, minor quibble Noisy Minor.

Poured from tap into a Schooner.

A: Hazy deep amber almost red body with a thin beige head. I’m impressed it managed a head at 8.5% ABV – that’s a challenge and a half with a big beer (being a homebrewer I know this from personal experience) and it looks damn tasty. 9/10.

S: Melon, tangerine notes with peach and a grainy but sweet malt. Well the hops are an interesting blend, they used Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops, which accounts for the fruitiness of the aroma, honestly those are two of my favourite hop breeds so they chose well. 8/10.

T: Again melon, tangerine notes and peach jump out, followed by sweet caramel malt, some grain notes and an oddly placed white wine spirit aftertaste in the finish, which is well balanced from bitter to sweet. So it’s a Red Ale with IPA hops thrown in, which is a little bit chaotic in the flavour profile but nonetheless reasonably nice. Pretty well done too considering it’s up there ABV-wise with greats like Duvel. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a carbonation that is a tad bit too light, a few more bubbles would have livened this up… still I like the body. 6/10.

D: Overall it’s got some nice big flavours. It tastes more like an IPA than a red Ale so not to style but otherwise it’s decent and enjoyable. Plus I occasionally like it when a beer “weirds” me out a little, not too much, but this is a perfect example of being “weirded out a little” by a beer. If I saw this on tap again I would certainly get a glass and down it quicker than Admiral Ackbar could say his immortal line “It’s a trap!”. 8/10.

Food match: Borderline between sweet and savoury and I’m not used to recommending dessert with an IPA hopped beer, you can play it safe with a cheese platter, go for spicy Thai fare or tackle a chargrilled steak – an all-rounder then.


Six String Dark Red IPA

Total Score: 7.05/10 Earth1 Caramel1 Grapefruit1 Nonicpint1

Today’s bruview is from a new Aussie brewer (for me at least) whom are based on the NSW central coast, a place called Erina (between Sydney and Newcastle), which makes them sort-a local to me (being in Canberra). Anyhow, me being me I went directly for the most challenging brew they make: A Dark Red IPA – based on a West Coast Red Ale, this one promises hops and I hope to soon nod my head in agreement of said hop promise.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Body is more a cloudy dark brown than dark red, I’ll forgive it though as I just got a whiff of a nice big floral hop bouquet, yum! It presents with a boisterous beige 1 inch head that soon subsides to a foamy centimetre head. 6/10 – that’s for the false advertising.

S: Lashings of floral hops with some tropical notes as well (papaya mostly), some citrus characters along with a sweet caramel base. Quite a nice hoppy aroma, that is lacking juuust a little bit more punch for a perfect score. 8/10.

T: Definitely a Red Ale (with West Coast hops!) – classic Red Ale notes of earthy/nutty/roasted malt with a hop hit towards the finish, less papaya and more citric/grapefruit. The aroma promised bolder flavour than received… a bit disappointing considering the 6% ABV. Finish is also a little too bitter for the subdued hop characters you get. I suspect however this IPA would warm up well. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a nice dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew is lacking a bit of finesse, especially with that overtly bitter aftertaste, hence the overall score. If this is Six String’s signature beer I probably won’t end up getting around to their other brews (too little time, too many beers I’m afraid). Aside from my quibbles I think the style and idea is cool (I’m currently brewing a Stout with Mosaic hops – a new hop variety used in IPAs) so I can appreciate the blurring of style lines, I just expected a bit more from this Red IPA. 6/10.

Food match: I would approach this with the same food that you would normally pair with an IPA – Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese are all winners here.


Sail & Anchor The Bloke

Total Score: 6.4/10 Coriander1 Caramel1 Biscuit1 Nonicpint1

Indeed tis been a long time since I drank a Sail & Anchor, or talked in some silly nautical voice, but this ‘Bloke’ was going cheap for 6 gold doubloons, and seeing as I had 6 shining doubloons in my sailor suit (and a squawking parakeet upon my shoulder) I had no choice but to “Arggh!”in my gruffest pirate accent and purchase a bottle to be reviewed whenever I could be bothered to. Welcome to whenever I could be bothered to!

Interesting note: This beer was brewed in cooperation with those reputable folks at Karl Strauss who, as legend (err, bottle label) has it, became inspired to start brewing during their stay at the Sail & Anchor Hotel.

Poured from a 640ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Ay tis a Red Ale if ever I’s sees one, with a deep rust body and a fathom of beige foam like from one of them things them yuppies drink, a caspa-chino. 7/10.

S: Caramel malts with brown sugar and light floral hops hinting away in the background. Tis a stormy drink we be in for, better batten down the hatches, bagpipe the mizzen and brace for a bold south-easterly. 7/10.

T: As noted above with more biscuit than brown sugar. The hops are more herbal than expected, and quite prominent in the after taste. There also a bit of dryness to the finish too. Overall the flavour isn’t really lacking anything, could be a touch sweeter, but that after taste is a bit of an annoyance, avast ye matey’s! 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a medium carbonation, could use less fizz in this pirates opinion. 5/10.

D: Apart from that distracting bitter after taste (that really doesn’t quit unfortunately) there is a reasonable Red Ale here. The Sail & Anchor boys (and girls) are rather hit and miss at times but this is neither a hit or a miss, I imagine Karl Strauss are responsible for preventing another S&A miss as they are decent brewers. Overall I wouldn’t pay full price but if you see it cheap it is worth a try… oh, and just to finish on a nautical theme: Arggh! Send ‘em to Davy Jones locker, dead men tell no tales! 5/10.

Food match: Something stewy, with a stewlike beefiness, and stewafied vegetables… perhaps “stew” is the word I’m looking for?