This Saturday, I promised myself to stay away from those ridiculously high ABV beers and settle for something more mainstream, yet different. No Oktoberfest beers and no pumpkin beers. I decided to stay local and spent some time at Four Seasons looking over their shelves. This time I brought my glasses along.
One beer caught my eye. It was from Generations Brewing in Freeport, IL near Rockford. The beer was a helles style. Ain’t had one of those in a while. But at 4.2%, it was a bit underwhelming. Up and down, back and forth until finally, a red and blue sixpack emerged from the darkness. Deschutes Swivelhead Red India Style Red Ale. I’ve always had good luck with reds but I’ll be damned if I can remember the last one I’ve had. Deschutes has a good reputation and has been brewing beer since ’88. I grabbed the sixer, paid and left relatively confident that the evening would turn out great.
I stashed the beer in the fridge and commenced searching for pertinent info on the beer and brewery just like for all the other beer Saturdays. I thought 5 1/2 hours would be sufficient to cool the beer. Ref. wife’s comment below.
Time was up. Warm or cold it’s going down the hatch.
The beer poured with the color of iced tea, but in the glass it looked reddish orange. The carbonation was vigorous with billions of micro-bubbles. The head rose up over an inch with thick and creamy beige foam. The aroma was of some sweet malts and hops.
The first sip was absolutely delicious. Slightly sweet with a bit a caramel notes and an oh-so-slight bitterness at the swallow. It was a real nice change of pace for an IPA. The hop profile eluded me and I was lost at naming which hops were used. A quick look at Deschutes beer list yielded the actual recipe outline. They have used no less than seven different varieties of hops. Alas, no quantities or times.
The Cara Red malt obviously gave the beer its color and contributed to its body. The unique sweetness in this beer is attributed to the Summer hops, an Australian variety which gives the beer a bit of a sweet, melon taste. That’s where I got the “slightly sweet” from in the preceding paragraph. Halfway into the first glassful and I still like it.
The Nugget, Delta, U.S. Tettnang, Crystal and Northern Brewer hops contribute small nuances to the overall bitterness. Either that, or they were leftovers on the shelf and the brewmaster wanted to get rid of them.
A link from the recipe page was the story behind the label and all its quirks and symbols. It’s nice that they did that.
Other beers from other breweries have added watermelon or other flavorings to beers to perhaps save time. But nothing beats a beer that’s a true beer and yet has a melon flavor which comes strictly from the hops. Hops can do wonderful and sometimes horrible things to beer. Citing Heady Topper and Palate Wrecker for examples of both. Some beers will punish the back of the throat while others will coat and caress it.
Swivelhead Red is the perfect beer for after work or during the game on Sunday. The nice, malty front followed by the slightly sweet and melony finish will help you get a bit more comfortable with your surroundings. We should all have a sixpack somewhere on standby.
The SixPackTech summary for Deschutes Swivelhead Red IRA:
Style: American Amber / Red Ale
Taste: Delicious and really tastes good too.
Smoothness: Nice from beginning to end.
Bang for the buck: On a par with other beers of this style.
Amount paid: $9.99 for a sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s red. (sniff) A little fruity. (sip) It’s not very cold. (sip) It’s just beer… like a regular beer to me. (sip) Should be a whole lot colder though. (Next time, I’ll ask the beer store to set up a table for us in their cooler for about a half hour.)
A Look Inside Deschutes Brewery [3:24]