It was a couple of weeks ago when I discovered a recent addition to the shelves at my local bottle shop. I bought it. The beer was from Alesmith. I’m aware of the brewery and I knew that they made some damn good beers but this beer was one I had never seen before. It was Alesmith Double Red India Pale Ale. I wondered if it was “double the red” or “double the IPA.”
The beer sat in my bedroom for a couple of weeks. My entire reasoning and logic for buying said beer had been forgotten. What I remembered was that red ales taste a bit sweeter and that this one may be double the red. While January here in Flatland has us in double digit temps around the freezing point, I though that tonight would be a perfect night for for some double sweetness or some double hop-ness.
The beer in question used to be called something different in the past. YuleSmith was the name given. It was brewed for the Christmas season, perhaps to go head-to-head with Bell’s Hopslam which came out about the same time.
Previously known as winter YuleSmith, this warming, hoppy ale used to be available exclusively during the holiday season. But the popularity of this red-hued India Pale Ale grew to the point where sharing a limited run of beer with our fans seemed insufficient. our answer was to convert this crimson IPA into a seasonal offering to be enjoyed from fall through the winter months. Caramel malt sweetness combines with citrusy highlights to bring forth a dry, highly drinkable beer that’s simultaneously hearty and thirst-quenching. the holidays are too brief to contain this much flavor.
I wondered how the flavor profile could be imagined in this Double Red beer. Would it taste similar to some juicy IPA from New England, or would we be back in the midwest with truer hoppy taste?!
Enough jibba-jabba. Let’s get down to bidness.
The beer poured red with a tad bit of orange for color. The head rose up super thick and beige. Carbonation was vigorous with lots of micro-bubbles. The aroma was slightly sweet with some vague hop smells were detected.
The first sip was a bit odd. It had a nice medium mouthfeel and a sweet intake. The swallow revealed that we were not in New England anymore revealed by the tastes of grass and pine. Quite a pleasant surprise.
The taste seemed to float between the piney, grassy side of the spectrum and the fruity grapefruit, mango side. I’d say that the pine and grass had the dominant flavors in this beer. We’re drinking west coast style tonight.
With each sip, the sweetness built up in the middle and then transferred over to a well rounded bitterness at the swallow. But the bitterness seemed to have had all the edges nicely rounded over, filed and sanded smooth. The first sip might surprise you as it did me, but the remaining sips will please the palate and put a smile on your tonsils. They will also mark their previous depths along the inside surface of the glass.
According to a homebrew clone recipe of this beer, it seems the bitterness is handled by Simcoe and Chinook while the sweet fruit characteristics come from the Citra and Mosaic. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.
The beer has a similar flavor to Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo IPA. A quick visit to the SN site and the Torpedo page hinted at the pine mixed in with tropical fruit flavors. It’d be nice to sit down for a blind taste comparison between the two beers.
One slight disappointment in this beer is the price. While one could compare this Double Red to Torpedo in taste, the difference in price is 4 bucks. I don’t know the ins and outs as to why there’s such a price discrepancy but I hope the craft beer brewers aren’t trying to wring every last quarter out of those who buy their beer. It appears that many quality brands have increased prices by a buck or two. I remember buying Torpedo not too long ago for 9 bucks. Now it’s 10. I certainly hope that the industry is not pricing itself out of existence. But this is not a rant about craft beer prices (although it could be,) it’s an opinion on the taste of Alesmith’s Double Red IPA which is damn good.
Alesmith’s Double Red IPA is available November – December. Time’s a wastin’. Get down to you local bottle shop and pick yourself up some of this goodness. You can subsidize your purchase by leaving lees money for tips at the restaurant, stiffing the kid by having the Tooth Fairy leave less or scooping up all the loose change in the “Need a penny” bowl on the counters at the stores you frequent.
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Taste: It goes from sweet to bitter to dry. Nice.
Smoothness: Pretty easy going.
Bang for the buck: A bit steep.
Amount paid: $13.99 for a sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Probably not, but I’ll certainly have one if offered.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Looks like any other dark beer. (sniff) It smells kind of like berries. (sip) OH. It’s very dry… (sip) Not terrible bitter but it sucks all the saliva out of your mouth. (KInda like what we used to do when we were dating.) Yeah, but it was a lot better back then. (Well, shut my mouth.)
Alesmith Brewing Company [9:12]