Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale review

Bear Republic Red Rocket AleEvery once in a while you spot an out of state brewery's beers being sold here in Colorado that just makes you stop and have to pick up a couple samples. When I spotted some beers from California's Bear Republic brewery I knew I had to grab them. Today I'll be reviewing the 1st of two different Bear Republic beers, this one is their Red Rocket Ale. Red Rocket Ale is billed as a "bastardized" Scottish style red ale that is aggressively hopped. It's unfiltered and bottled conditioned and supposedly "breaks all the style molds". Don't you just love it when a brewery says that? You don't know what to expect.

Appearance: I looked inside the bottle and couldn't spot any sediment floating around at the bottom of the 22oz bottle, so if it was bottle conditioned I couldn't tell up front. Red Rocket pours a dark mahogany red (nearly brown). The 1st pour out of the bottle looks clear and was clear. No evidence of being unfiltered. There was a very nice 2 to 3 finger tall tan head that was thick and creamy looking. The head stuck around for quite a long time and left a noticeable clingy lacing on my Sam Adams beer glass. Gotta love a nice thick head.

Aroma: The initial aroma out of the bottle was dominated by hops. It was piney and citrusy like a grapefruit and reminded me instantly of a hoppy Pale Ale or a IPA. I knew there was an abundance of malts here but the hops took center stage at first.

Mouthfeel: Just as soon as I took my first sip I felt a sharp tingling on the front of my tongue. The hops were making a frontal assault on my mouth. I haven't had a big hoppy beer in a while and it felt like I was being punished for enjoying too many light summer beers. Red Rocket has a medium body that felt resiny, bitter and immediately drying to the mouth.

Taste: My initial reaction was, whoa - hops! I swore this reminded me of an IPA up front. It took me several sips before I got past the abundant hop hit and I could taste the caramel malts in this beer. The beer may have been a bit too cold initially and as it warmed up a bit the malts then fought their way back into the mix. It's kinda of like one of those Shock Tarts, where the sour hits you immediately up front before you can taste the sweet beneath. Same theory here, only hop bitterness up front then revealing the nice complex malts underneath.

This is one of those beers that gets much better as you go along. Serve this beer around 45 to 50 degrees and you'll be all set. Sipping this by itself wasn't enough, I just had to pair this with some cheese so I quickly opened up a small round of sharp cheddar cheese and alternated between the beer and the cheddar. Mmm, nice. Quite the combo it was. An excellent cheese pairing goes a long way to enhancing your drinking experience with this beer.

Overall: This red ale is quite delicious once your taste buds adjust. It really didn't remind me of a Scottish ale like Oskar Blues Old Chub (for example) but rather reminded me of an Odell's Red Ale instead. At 6.8% ABV, the Red Rocket Ale isn't exactly a session beer either. It's hoppy, malty and has a respectable kick to it. This would be a nice beer to compliment a full meal. I'd pair it also with beef, fish or poultry. I was easily able to finish the entire 22oz bottle. Quite good!

The only other time I've had a beer from Bear Republic was at last year's Great American Beer Festival where I sampled their Racer 5 and Racer X beers. In fact, the 2nd of my two Bear Republic reviews will be on the Racer 5 IPA which is coming up shortly. Look for that review here.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Style Ale review
- Odell Red Ale review
- Stone Levitation Ale review

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