Tasting, Thinking, Blending…

Redhook India Pale Ale

If I read the bottle coding right, this was bottled in August 2017. The label states Portsmouth, NH as one of the brewing locations. That facility was later closed and re-branded by Craft Brewers Alliance, owner of Redhook, as Cisco Brewery, a New England brewery also in the CBA stable.

I knew all this when I bought it, but bought it anyway. The label stated dry-hopping – an addition of unboiled hops to the finished brew to enhance hop character – plus generous use of hops in the brewing. This encouraged me to think the hop charge would preserve the beer over 18 months, irrespective of any pasteurisation that may have been applied.

And it sure did: the beer showed not a hint of damp paper oxidation or other age affliction. The hops were well-integrated in the taste and the beer had a good malty body to “absorb” them.

After all, India Pale Ale was meant to be long stored and shipped, originally. Only recently did the idea grow, for reasons valid unto themselves, that IPA needs to be drunk as fresh as possible. That is true of beers given a large dose of aroma hopping where that burst of flowery fruity freshness is wanted in the palate.

The original IPA was different: the idea was to preserve the beer from souring and if hop bitterness or other attributes diminished in the process, that was okay and even proof the hops did their job. Redhook IPA, a beer with an impressive craft lineage – it has its genesis in Ballard Bitter, an early product of the pioneer brewery (founded 1981) – is perfect for such treatment.

This is not to say it is not excellent when very fresh; I’m sure it is.

The hop accent here is the craft workhorse Cascade, perhaps 100% Cascade, as many early craft ales were. I’d think Jack McAuliffe’s historic New Albion Ale (1976-1984) tasted similar to this beer. It has a citric taste but without the 100 watt intensity many later IPAs featured.

The taste is a bit earthy too and, well, “down home”, but this was the taste of early American craft ales on the West Coast as I well recall.

Redhook’s IPA is still popular in Seattle, home turf of the brewery, and long may it reign there.

Hands Across the Water Blend

I mentioned this blend in a tweet and it turns out to be perhaps the best I’ve ever done, it’s half each of the beers shown below. The result is like a really good Munich Dunkel, or dark lager. The American (Florida) Kölsch is certainly very nice on its own, as is the Spaten double bock, but the combination creates synergies that surprised me.

True, the Kölsch is top-fermented (by nature), the other is a lager, hence bottom-fermented, but with both reflecting a German approach in mashing and hopping, it all meshes really well.

If need be I’ll rely on the current fashion in brewing to use mixed fermentations, but that only goes to show if the final result is good, go with it.

I did the blend because I had two bottle ends to use up and also, the Spaten is around 8% abv and I wanted to bring the strength down. I had a feeling though the result had to be good given the components, and it was, in spades.