All posts by Mike Festi

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

78 points

rating_verygoodWhen I think of Stone Brewing, my thoughts immediately turn to their wide array of IPAs.  Interestingly enough, The Basement Beer Tastings has yet to rate any of Stone’s IPA offerings.

Viewed by beer enthusiasts as a travesty, I’m sure, this is something we’ll have to make up for in spades before we close out 2016 — or at the rate we’re going, the beginning of 2017.  Alas, here we are now, left to review Stone’s take on an Imperial Russian Stout.

stonerussianimperialstoutIf you’re keeping track — and I’m certain you are — we’ve rated Stone’s seasonal Coffee Milk Stout and year-round Smoked Porter.   The panel greatly enjoyed the stout, but the porter left many feeling as if they just drank a beer out of a chimney…and not one that had been recently swept, I might add.

As our spoiler-inducing heading indicates, Imperial Russian Stout falls closer to Milk Stout than Smoked Porter.  So let’s dive in and find out exactly what the panel enjoyed about this brew.

Appearance was — you guessed it — black.  The panel noted that Stone didn’t appear to pour as thick as other imperial stouts, but produced a nice carbonated head.

Smell elicited a wider variety of descriptions.  Smoke dominated the panelists’ thoughts, but also sensed were bacon, vanilla, malt, molasses, caramel and a hint of butteriness.  No matter what scent was found, though, every panelist scored smell as a solid 9 out of 10.

The mouthfeel was thick and creamy at first, but then fizzy — good, but not great.  The taste scores echoed this sentiment, as well.  The panelists couldn’t shake the strong flavor of alcohol that seemed to dominate all other flavors in the beer.  The alcohol also affected each panelist’s enjoyment of the aftertaste.  Those that downgraded aftertaste felt the flavor was too strong and lingered too long.  For the panelists that enjoyed Stone, they felt the alcoholic aftertaste proved the consistency of the beer.

Once again, the high ABVs of our Imperial Stout night seemed to have an affect on panelists’ ratings, as there was only one comment about the beer’s drinkability.  Because of the predominance of alcohol in the flavor, one panelist felt this stout was a “one-and-done.”  That would be me. I said that.

On the other hand, one panelist felt Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout was very easy to drink because of the strong alcohol flavor. (It was Jon).

Unfortunately for him, everyone else seemed to agree with me — and I’m basing this on their scores since, apparently, they were too lazy or buzzed to write any type of comment about drinkability.

With all that said, indeed Stone Imperial Russian Stout is a very good beer.  You’ll like it even more if you’re a fan of a strong alcohol flavor.

As for the rest of us? This stout will be more enjoyable than Stone’s Porter, since it won’t leave you feeling like you just sucked on a smoke stack.  Unless of course you’re into that sort of thing…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(Appearance 8.4, Smell 9, Mouthfeel 3.6, Taste 20, Aftertaste 16, Drinkability 21.4)

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Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

rating_verygood72 points

Long Trail’s Brush and Barrel series combines a seasonal, small batch brew with labeling provided by a local artist.

These beers can either be purchased in a single bottle or in a cylindrical tube with a print of the artwork from the label.

I’m sad to admit it, but the artwork is what caught my attention with this beer.  It really is the only reason why I bought the beer in the first place.  But it was serendipitous since it provided us with another beer to include in our pumpkin ratings.

longtrailimperialpumpkinThe majority of the panel scored the beer in the good range, but two panelists thought it was excellent.  So what separated the van Goghs from the “van Nos?”

All agreed that Imperial Pumpkin’s caramel coloring looked very good. Some panelists noted a nice head on the beer.  Smell was deemed sweet with notes of pumpkin, clove, caramel, and…beer?  Good to know this beer actually smells like a beer, which I guess in our pumpkin beer ratings, was not a given.  I’m looking in your direction, Shipyard.

The imperial aspect of the beer made its presence known upon taste.  Alcohol was present and strong.  For the panelists that rated this beer excellent, both found hints of bourbon in the flavor.  As for the rest of us, the strong alcohol flavor was found to be a little too much, and detracted from the other flavors in the beer.

The differing views carried over to the beer’s aftertaste.  Panelists either commented on the strong — but not lingering — medicinal flavor or the smoothness of the brew.  One panelist did note that he enjoyed the aftertaste more than the actual taste.

And…now we find ourselves at drinkability.  The two excellent ratings definitely saved this beer from being cast aside like some seasonal decoration that begins to wither and rot.  However, the sole comment from the panel was “One tasting glass is enough.”

Considering how the panelists who enjoyed Imperial Pumpkin didn’t bother to comment on drinkability, it’s clear we were all ready to move onto the next pumpkin offering.

Even though Long Trail’s Imperial Pumpkin wasn’t our highest rated beer of the evening, it certainly came with the best artwork.

Unfortunately for Long Trail, the last time I checked we’re not known as The Basement Art Ratings…but maybe?!

(Appearance 8.5, Smell 8.17, Taste 21.17, Aftertaste 13.5, Drinkability 20.33)

Continue reading Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin

Harpoon Czernobog

85 points

rating_excellentLast summer, I had a palate-altering experience when I tasted Harpoon’s Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged Czernobog.  I was so impressed by this beer that I penned an open letter to Harpoon imploring them to make this gem a wide-scale release and not just a one-time brewery exclusive.

harpoonczernobogAlas, that request has not been fulfilled by Harpoon.  An utter shame, in my opinion, as the world needs to experience Barrel Aged Czernobog.  I’m not going to suggest this delicious beer could bring about world peace, but maybe….

To somewhat tide us over until the brain trust at Harpoon comes to their senses, the panel decided to taste the non-barrel-aged version of Czernobog — a Russian Imperial Stout that did achieve greatness, but won’t bring about world peace like a maple bourbon barrel aged varietal might.

Appearance was nearly a unanimous 10.  One panelist downgraded the beer a point for…well, God only knows what reason.  Considering his comments, “Nice solid black color, good head stays for awhile, nice lacing,” this panelist praised appearance more than any of the others that rated it a 10.  Sometimes I don’t even think Rick knows what’s going on in his own mind.

Smell was also highly rated with only one member of the panel differing greatly from the rest.  I’m pretty sure you can figure out who that was.  Chocolate was most commonly noted, as well as smoke and cherry.  The Negative Nigel thought the smell wasn’t strong enough to receive high marks.

The mouthfeel of Czernobog was both creamy and syrupy.  The syrupy characteristic left many panelists noted a coating in their mouths after drinking.  That could be why mouthfeel averaged out to be great, but not phenomenal.

Taste also received some very high scores.  Cherry was most predominant, but the panel also noticed scotch and smoke.  The scotch flavor is what led two panelists to lower their taste ratings because they felt the beer was a bit medicinal.  In hindsight, though, that could have been the cherry since the scotch was greatly enjoyed on the aftertaste.  One panelist felt that the aftertaste didn’t linger long enough.

Overall, each panelist could easily see themselves enjoying a glass of Czernobog — whether it be in front of a roaring fire or lounging in a comfy chair.  The only problem was for those on the panel who had enjoyed the barrel-aged version. Czernobog was excellent, but it was no substitute for it’s world class sister incarnation.

The dream still lives on that the  decision makers at Harpoon will realize the error in their ways and release Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged Czernobog for the masses.  Until that day comes, though, we’ll just have to make do with an “Excellent” rated  imperial stout…and live like a bunch of savages.

(Appearance 9.8, Smell 9.2, Mouthfeel 4, Taste 21, Aftertaste 16.2, Drinkability 24.8)
Continue reading Harpoon Czernobog

Opa Opa Coconut & Hazelnut Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged)

exclusive


rating_basement45 points

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

That was the typical reaction after the panel tasted Opa Opa’s ridiculously long titled “Coconut and Hazelnut Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged).”

Okay, I may be exaggerating our reaction slightly to draw the readers in…much in the same way Opa Opa seemingly exaggerated with its promise of coconut, hazelnut, bourbon…and, well, stout.

In all opaopacoconuthazelnuthonesty, we should have clued in to the palate disaster waiting for us from the extremely small font used on the label to note the bourbon barrel aging of the beer.

If I were a brewer, anything I barrel-aged would most certainly be proclaimed loudly and proudly on the packaging.  Designating such small font doesn’t give justice to the time intensive process of barrel aging.

However,  after tasting this beer, we understood why such a nondescript font size was utilized.  Not one panelist noted the word bourbon on their tasting sheet.  So absent was bourbon from this brew that the word wasn’t even used to note the nonexistence of its flavor.

If we had to guess, the barrel aging process probably involved placing the pre-bottled beer next to a bourbon barrel and hoping the essence would soak in due to proximity…similar to the way The Basement Beer Tastings hopes to soak in readers due to our search engine proximity to more highly touted beer review websites.  Alas in both cases, it’s not happening.

Since I’ve already let the cat out of the bag about the beer’s taste, I might as well continue with the savory descriptors the panelists used in describing CHIS’s flavor.  (Yup, I’m referring to this as CHIS because having to write “Coconut and Hazelnut Imperial Stout” multiple times is just going to infuriate me.)

Sour, bitter and chemical burn were the highlights of the panelists’ views on taste.  Even the mouthfeel was rather lackluster, with most finding CHIS to be fizzy, light, and watery.

As bad as that seems, it doesn’t compare to the fact that the most common word used to describe the smell was “paint.”  More specifically, latex paint.  On the other hand, at least no one described the smell as lead paint.

Aftertaste was the one area where a scant trace of CHIS’s namesake appeared.  Some panelists were able to detect very light coconut, though it wasn’t enough to redeem the brew or change the harsh opinions that were being formed.  As such, drinkability did not turn out favorably.

Now, observant reader, you may have noticed that appearance has yet to be discussed.  That’s because I’ve decided to save the best for last.  Literally.

The best part of this beer was the appearance, with the panel noting its dark color, reddish hues and carbonation.  And while it didn’t stack up to the appearance of most of the other evening’s selections, we can’t say that CHIS is all bad.

Actually, as our current lowest rated imperial stout, I’m going to say exactly that.  Opa Opa Coconut and Hazelnut Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged) is all bad.

Perhaps in addition to the small font size, Opa Opa might consider adding an asterisk to their labeling.  At least that way consumers will be properly warned about the contents within.

(Appearance 8.2, Smell 4.2, Mouthfeel 2, Taste 11.4, Aftertaste 9, Drinkability 10.6)

Continue reading Opa Opa Coconut & Hazelnut Imperial Stout (Bourbon Barrel Aged)

Imperial Stout Night

What type of beer do you equate with summer?  If it’s a dark, full-bodied, high ABV brew usually served at a temperature between 55 and 60 degrees, then you’re probably one of our panelists.  I’m looking in your direction, Bob Bowden.

imperialstoutnightSurprise!  We’re kicking off summer with a  slate of reviews for Imperial Stouts — some Russian, some barrel-aged, and all packing enough alcoholic punch to remind us that there’s a reason the tasting glasses hold only four ounces.

Madness?  Indeed.  But we’re thinking these reviews might help transport our readers to a cooler season…to a time when sitting in front of a roaring fireplace with a smooth-sipping, heavy brew was the highlight of the day.

Also, being the ever-observant reader that you are, you’ll notice our tastings ratings now take into consideration “mouthfeel.”

Mouthfeel — literally the sensation of how the beer feels in your mouth — is judged on a five-point scale, lowering the taste score from 30 points to 25. We stand by our ratings completed prior to this change, because we had been informally taking mouthfeel into account in our Taste scores.

I’m clearly missing an opportunity to say something sophomoric about mouthfeel…but hey, some comments need to be reserved for the tasting room.

So, find a nice air conditioned space, turn on the Fireplace Channel, and cozy up with our imperial stout reviews.  Just remember not to turn that air conditioner too low…you don’t want to cool down that cellar-temperature imperial stout.

Tree House Eureka

rating_verygood77 points

“EUREKA!” is what you might exclaim if you find yourself with a great beer. “Pretty good,” is what you might say if you find yourself with a Tree House Eureka.

Now, I’m not trying to undersell Eureka, because the panel did find it to be a Very Good beer.  Unfortunately for this beer, Tree House’s current belle-of-the-ball status in the beer world has slightly influenced my review.

treehouseeurekaI’m willing to bet that anything you’ve heard about Tree House  has been extremely positive.  Just do a quick search for Tree House Brewing reviews, and you’re sure to see high praise —  like how Tree House is seemingly “killing the beer game.”

All that hype can lead to disappointment if you, like me, tend to take a more cynical stance when you hear about “the best IPA in the country at the moment.”  (That statement not referring to Eureka, per se, but bold nonetheless.)

Don’t get me wrong.  Intentions here at The Basement Beer Tastings are not to severely judge highly-touted brews.  But there is a sense of guilty pleasure in finding fault with something deemed to be the “next big thing.”

Right now, Tree House seems to benefit from their limited-release, wait-in-a-long-line sales model.  With every new body added into that line, Tree House’s cult status grows.

Tree House plans to move into a new, larger facility that will surely accommodate higher quantity productions, and hopefully reduce the wait time for their brews.

I’ve digressed, so now onto Eureka.

With everything that we’d (I’d) heard, we were (I was) expecting most of the Tree House offerings to be in the Excellent and World Class range.

Yes, Eureka is a Very Good beer.  But there are a lot of very good beers out there, most of which don’t require you to wait in a Soviet-era bread line — or to fill out some antiquated ordering sheet to procure.  I mean really…who still uses a pen and paper to order something?

I’m going to stop here.  After proofing this with co-founder Jon Graney, we both decided I was being a little too harsh on Tree House (hence the addition of the parentheses).   They do indeed make Very Good beers, and I was treating them with the type of vitriol we usually reserve for the likes of Shock Top or any beer with Sculpin in the name.

So, if you’ve stuck with the post to this point (and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t), you’re probably wondering what makes Eureka a Very Good selection.

Well, I’ll start by telling you it’s not the appearance.   Panelists were split in their ratings with half finding the appearance to be Belgiany and the other half finding the appearance to be, well, Belgiany.  Tomato, tomato I guess.

(There’s probably a better print analogy I could have used there.)

More universally recognized was the agreeableness of Eureka’s aroma.  Citrusy hops were apparent to all, with some noting enticing grapefruit.  Aroma is the one area where Eureka truly presented itself as a great beer.

The citrus flavors were also of note in the taste, though taste was deemed to be a bit of a letdown by the majority of the panel.  Hops were present, but the taste, overall, was described as light and watery — good but not great.

The beer’s lightness did seem to have a positive impact on aftertaste.  The slightly hoppy aftertaste was deemed pleasant, albeit short-lived… yet again, good but not great.

Noticing a trend?  Clearly you should be able to guess what the panel had to say about drinkability.

Absolutely Eureka is an easy drinker.  Most of the panel thought it to be a fantastic summer beer.  It’s lightness was sure to be thirst-quenching on a hot day.  However, placing a caveat on when we would drink this beer wasn’t helping it earn points.  Drinkability: good but not great.

Yes, perhaps I’m being a tad more critical of Eureka because of all the word-of-mouth hype surrounding Tree House.  Fair?  Probably not, since Tree House is certainly making some very good beers.  But when you’re looking for a “Eureka!” and instead receive a “very good,” you can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

So, while Eureka may not live up to the hype, we’re pretty sure there’s a Tree House brew that’s completely deserving of all the hoopla.

And “bear” in mind, we’ve still got one more review to publish.

(Appearance 5.75, Smell 8.5, Taste 23, Aftertaste 15, Drinkability 25)

Continue reading Tree House Eureka

Tree House Night

We’treehousebeersve been busy, get off our backs!

Sorry, we thought the best defense would be a good offense in order to explain our recent lack of posts to the site.

In all seriousness, we’ve been slightly preoccupied with other endeavors.  Don’t worry, we’ve still had plenty of time to drink.  And it’s left us with a plethora of future content.

So first up will be our recent (relatively speaking) evening of tasting a selection from Tree House brewery.  The cult of Tree House has been growing for quite some time in our neck of the woods.  A small brewery located in Monson, Massachusetts, it is fast  becoming the go-to for New England craft beer enthusiasts.

Usually, when there’s this much hype surrounding a brewery, we tend to be a little skeptical going into a tasting.  And this actually wasn’t our first rodeo with Tree House.

Back in August, the panel rated Lights On and had come away rather underwhelmed with the experience.  Yes, the beer was good but we were expecting great.  Maybe that’s unfair to the brewery, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  Or in this case, the Lights On disappointed.

Would Tree House be able to justify the buzz with one of their other offerings?  Really, that was the question we were trying to answer at this tasting.

In full disclosure, this tasting started off as a small gathering of five panelists.  Since we only had one pint can of each Tree House brew, we knew the tasting couldn’t be opened to a large panel.  We even thought five panelists might be pushing it.

Well, it turns out fate felt the same way.  Unfortunately, our newest invitee had to leave abruptly during the first tasting; don’t worry everything eventually turned out fine, except for the fact that he missed out on our first WORLD CLASS beer.

So stayed tuned in the coming days for our take on a few beers from Tree House.  It’s sure to be a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Oh, who are we kidding…the emotions are all going to be on our end due to the pressure we’re going to put on ourselves to get these reviews out.  Happy Reading!

Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal

rating_excellent89 points

In full disclosure, here at The Basement Beer Tastings we’ve recently discovered a bit of a  personal bias.  Okay…you caught us.  When pressed under the intense fluorescent light of the basement, that would be biases.

First, it appears that many a panelist can be too easily swayed by the dark side.  Woh, woh, woh, slow down there Kylo Ren…we’re talking about the temptation offered by a dark (and thick bodied) stout.  No one here will be joining The First Order any time soon.

sierranevadanarwhalbarrelagedSecond, apparently we’re all suckers for barrel aging.  Yes, yes, we know.  Barrel aging may be the latest brewing fad worth discussing.  But, we’ve found some pretty amazing brews due to our penchant for barrel aging.

What’s that you say?  Errr…  Indeed you’ve caught us again.  We’ve certainly found a stinker or two.  In our defense, the Shock Top was bequeathed to us and not actually sought after.  And the Two Roads? Well, that’s all on Rick.

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Where’s he going with this? ” Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal…that’s where!

To use one of panelist Jon’s favorite sayings, “Let that soak in for a moment.”  (Much like the barrel aging soaked into the beer. See what I did there?)

For those unfamiliar with Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal, it’s their annually released imperial stout.  But even more elusive than that yearly offering is the limited run Barrel Aged Narwhal — aptly named, since narwhals are known as the “unicorns of the sea.”

And what’s harder to find than a unicorn?  Possibly one that’s been barrel aged.

I’ll stop here to mention how the panel had pretty high hopes for this barrel aged beauty.  Considering none had experienced the standard Narwhal, the expectations were rather unfounded.  Besides from the fact that we had so greatly enjoyed Sierra Nevada’s Barrel Aged Bigfoot, there was really no rhyme or reason to the amount of hype surrounding the beer.

Honestly, it probably had to do with the length of time it took us to procure a bottle.  With each passing trip to the liquor store, the legend of the elusive Narwhal grew.

Thankfully, Narwhal did not disappoint.  As a matter of fact, many of the panelists felt it had surpassed their already inflated expectations.

Not too much time needs to be spent on appearance.  Guess what, it’s black.  And it looked beautiful, standing out in particular was it’s smooth, syrupiness while poured.  There were traces of red in the head, but most of the panel were transfixed by the complete darkness filling each glass.

Right away the scent of bourbon found the panel.  Traces of marshmallow, coconut, chocolate and vanilla were also noted.  It seemed as though the long wait was going to pay off.

So, here we are at taste.  Using the panelists’ own words, taste was described as “delicious buttery bourbon, vanilla imperial stout” and “smooth, creamy bourbon.”

Mouthfeel was deemed highly viscous, noted as both buttery and syrupy.

Aftertaste provided a slight burn. Welcome to the party, bourbon.  Vanilla and smoke were two flavors noted to linger.  In the case of Narwhal, it seemed the aftertaste augmented the beer’s favorability.

Every panelist could see themselves easily drinking Barrel Aged Narwhal.  Popular sentiment was that it needed to be savored and enjoyed slowly.  Panelists pictured themselves enjoying a relaxing evening with this smooth sipper of a brew — most likely on a cold night, sitting in front of an impressive fire.

Overall, despite elevating this stout to almost unattainable levels, it certainly proved to be a truly excellent beer.

So now, it’s time for you to develop your own myth about the great Barrel Aged Narwhal.  And if you happen to stumble across this unicorn of a beer, without hesitation, buy it.  You’ll surely be glad you did because, honestly, how often can one say they’ve caught a unicorn?  And, a barrel aged one to boot.

(Appearance 9.43, Smell 9.29, Taste 26.43, Aftertaste 18., Drinkability 25.57) 

Continue reading Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

rating_basement44 points

We’ve heard that there are a lot of great things coming out of Ballast Point.

Unfortunately, we here at The Basement Beer Tastings haven’t seen a lot of evidence to support that claim.

To say that we weren’t “wowed” by their Sculpin IPA is putting it politely.  It’s not bad, per se, but after the word-of-mouth build up for that beer, we were left rather underwhelmed by our experience.

Fballastpointhaberneroast-forward several months, when guest panelist Eric couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a 12-ounce bottle of Habanero Sculpin to our “Rich Man’s beers” tasting.

At $13.99 a six-pack, you’re probably saying to yourself “Rich man’s beer?  Not so much, dummy.”

Au contraire mon frère, because if you’ve tasted it, you know that paying anything more than getting-a-bottle-for-free is too much.  And even then, you’ll probably be looking for someone to reimburse you for finishing it.

Saying this beer is terrible doesn’t do justice to just how bad it really it is.  As a matter of fact, to truly paint the picture of the awful experience that was tasting Habanero Sculpin, I’m going to let the panel speak for themselves:

Co-Founder Jon said, “Smells like feet. It has a pepper jack aftertaste without the benefit of eating delicious pepper jack cheese.”

Panelist Rick exclaimed, “WHY?! This [insert expletive here] sucks!”

Eric noted, “It has a dirty sock and rotten orange smell.”

Guest Panelist Susan said, “It smells like a dirty sneaker…God-awful.”

And our favorite quote came from Guest Panelist Ken. “Some drunk must have come up with this one.”

Oh, you better believe he’ll be invited back.

As for my two cents? “SMELLS BAD, like vomit feet. The taste is all spiciness with their crappy Sculpin behind it.”

Habanero Sculpin was certainly turning out to be one of our least enjoyable tasting experiences.

Although appearance and aftertaste received relatively positive scores, it just wasn’t enough to keep this beer out of The Basement.

And, while it’s no Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask(et) Wheat, it’s safe to say no one on this panel is going to be searching out Habanero Sculpin to try again.

For what it’s worth, Ballast Point has got to be doing something right.  I’d imagine Constellation Brands isn’t going to fork over $1 billion for some second-rate operation just on a whim.

But if that is the case, I know of a website they might have some interest in.

This website. It’s this website.

(Appearance 6.71, Smell 3.43, Taste 12.43, Aftertaste 12.14, Drinkability 8.86)

Continue reading Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

Opa-Opa Red Rock

rating_verygood74 points

Imagine instead of the fabulous casting of Johnny Depp to play Captain Jack Sparrow, Colin Farrell played the well loved character.   Having trouble visualizing? Hopefully not anymore.

What does this have to do with Opa-Opa’s Red Rock Amber?  Well, it just so happens that the rogue pictured to the left is the namesake of the restaurant where the ale first caught our attention.

Actually, it’s how we’ve been introduced to the majority of Opa-Opa’s brews.  The Kaptain’s (as we call it) is part of the brewery’s restaurant family.

Not to get sidetracked, but we highly recommend a visit to this establishment… especially on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday if, like us, you enjoy a good meal at a value price.

opaoparedrockAnyway, back to matters at hand.  Red Rock Amber seemed the perfect fit for our October Open Tasting.  A more traditional ale that balanced well with the evening’s other offerings.   Also, at a reasonable price per 12 pack, it would help to offset the cost of the slightly pricier micro-brews.

We knew Red Rock was a decent offering from our past experiences at The Kaptain’s.  We knew it wasn’t going to race to the top of our rankings, but it wasn’t a brew that would end up in the basement either.  Still, we wondered, just where would our large panel place this ale on our tasting spectrum?

The entire panel rated appearance positively, noting a reddish-amber hue.  Panelists were disappointed with the lack of head and lacing from the pour.  Still, the strong color seemed to make up for the beer’s other visual limitations.

The panel was pretty consistent in their use of the word apple to describe Red Rock’s smell and taste.  The ale seems to have an almost Saisonish (yeah, I just made that up) smell, with a vinegary tartness coming through in the aroma.

But, let’s face it, you’re not cracking a beer open to sit there and smell it all night. So, what did the panel think about the taste experience of Red Rock?

The flavors noted were brown sugar and apple.  “Sour” and “watery” were both used to describe the apple flavor.  Some panelists thought the taste fell a bit flat.  Even still, taste averaged out at a respectable 22 points of 30.

Aftertaste was deemed to be slightly bitter, with several panelists noting a metallic finish.   Almost all were in agreement that the beer had a strong mouth drying effect.  Averaging close to 15 points, aftertaste wasn’t hurting Red Rock’s chances of scoring within the respectable range.

Drinkability scores were good, with panelists thinking that two Red Rocks would probably be the limit of their drinking experience.  As one panelist put it, this ale seems to be missing the “wow” factor that would send it to another level.

So, is Opa-Opa Red Rock Amber a very good beer?  Why yes, it certainly is.  But, is it a great beer?  Perhaps that question should be saved for your next trip to Kaptain Jimmy’s,  preferably on a Monday or Wednesday night when a burger and Red Rock will cost a mere $5.55.

Great?!  Try out-freaking-standing!

(Appearance 7.4, Smell 6.9, Taste 22, Aftertaste 14.8, Drinkability 22.9)

Continue reading Opa-Opa Red Rock