Friday, September 16, 2011

Imperial Red with Rye Review

I’m always somewhat hesitant to write up formal reviews of my beers…not because I’m afraid of unjustifiably glorifying or castigating them, but more so because I don’t feel that I can adequately convert my thoughts/sensory perceptions into words.  It’s a real skill that I admire and I only wish I had such a talent.  When I sample a beer, although I know what components I do and don’t like about it, translating those thoughts into expressions is a significant challenge.  In time and with experience, hopefully my verbal quiver will grow and it’ll become easier to detail the highs and lows of each brew.

Back in March when we brewed this ImperialRed w/ Rye, it was a strategic play in hopes of being selected by a local brewery through the Puget Sound Pro-Am competition.  Although the competition has come and gone, and unfortunately this beer was not selected (results here), I’m still happy with the strategy that we attempted since the best of show beer turned out to be a Rye PA.  We were on the right track, but sadly we didn’t execute well enough to be selected.  Overall though, I’m very pleased with the way this beer turned out. 

Aroma:  Big citrus hop nose…lots of your typical grapefruit, orange, and pine with maybe a bit of bit of herb?  Solid maltiness with a bit of caramel and slight chocolate.  No alcohol warmth.

Appearance:  Leans more towards red than copper (maybe tawny red?) with a nice off-white head of tight, small bubbles.  The head lasts longer than I anticipated for such a big beer, but when it fades, it leaves nice lacing on the glass.  Originally the beer was quite clear, not brilliant, but the one in the picture was the last draw from the keg which unfortunately picked up a bit of sediment. It's also a pretty wide and deep glass, so the beer appears much darker than it really is.

Flavor:  This beer is big on all fronts…huge hop flavors and a big malt backbone.  The citrus/piney flavors meld really well with the toasty malts and they strike a balance that’s really enjoyable.  There’s a bit of caramel in there too…not sweetness, but a richness that sort of tempers the bitterness from all of the hops.  I’m not the best at picking out rye, but I don’t really sense any…maybe a bit in the mouthfeel?  There’s a slight warming from the alcohol, but it’s not hot or unpleasant at all and in fact it adds just another layer of complexity.  There’s a bit of a lingering bitterness from the hops on the finish, but as the beer warms, this seems to fade.

Mouthfeel:  With the solid attenuation, the beer isn’t heavy or thick on the tongue. It’s more medium-bodied.  It’s very smooth and creamy with a medium level of carbonation.

Overall:  I’m very happy with this beer.  The rye didn’t come through as much as I was expecting, but the beer is no worse for it.  There’s something really pleasant about the way the rich caramelliness acts as a platform of expression for all the bold hop flavors.  They compliment  each other extremely well and the smooth, creamy body makes it a really enjoyable beer to drink. 

For a more ‘authentic’ review, you can see our pro-am score sheets for this beer by clicking here.

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