Tasting the Bear Republic Red Rocket

Bear Republic is one of many amazing craft breweries in the United States, specifically in California, which unfortunately never makes its way as far north as Canada. There are many breweries in this scenario, however a good friend of mine had moved to LA, and hasn’t stopped talking about Bear Republic’s Red Rocket and their Racer 5 IPA. So last time he came back to Canada he made sure to represent, and brought with him some Red Rocket Ale; their American Amber.

I had heard a lot of hype, and from many valuable sources, so I was pretty excited for this beer. Also, I love a good rich American Amber, and feel like many breweries overlook the style, or continue to produce relatively bland, 5% versions with less body and taste than is fitting of the style.

It was a beautiful sunny spring day at the cottage, so I took the opportunity to enjoy this magnificent ale.

The Red Rocket is 6.8% abv, which is really exactly where I think an American Red should be. Nice and rich, full in body, sweet, malty and a good bite to it. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, I haven’t even opened the bottle yet. Bear republic actually claims the beer is a “bastardized Scottish style Red”, which makes me even more excited! It recently took home a silver at the 2009 California State Fair, and has won silvers at previous Great American Beer Festivals.

From the get-go this beer surprised and impressed me; it poured a deep and dark amber red showing loads of mahogany, bronze, and black tones. A sturdy and creamy airy head built about two inches above the beer with a big amber tan color. The nose was full malts, caramel and toffee spice, a touch of hops, and sweet berry floating across the whole beer. It was deep and rich, and did remind me more of a Scottish rather than American Ale.

Regardless of style origin, I went right in for the kill grabbing a large gulp of this beer – it didn’t surprise me because I was expect something delicious, but it rather proved me right in a very satisfying way. Right away thick and creamy caramel and crystal malts hit the center of your tongue and glide over to your cheeks and throat. Hops too, are very apparent, it has 67 IBUs, so  it is slightly more bitter than the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. They come in with soft bitter and crisp hop herbal flavors though rather than the citrus rush.

As it warms slightly the complexity of the malt shows more aromatic properties and some sweet signs of cherries, rhubarb and strawberry. Mild spices add to the balance in this beer with pepper and ginger, maybe a touch of allspice. Carbonation is relatively average, but allows the beer to still remain smooth and elegant on the palate. The finish is crisp with rich malt sweetness and is significantly appetizing.

I definitely enjoyed this one a lot, and will look for packs of it for the summer. I had it on its own, but I can imagine it with grilled red meat, hearty pasta, pizza, burgers, and cheesecake. MMMmmm, maybe in a cheesecake…

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