Friday, November 27, 2009

Zero Hour, Nine A.M.

Going back five or six years, Bear Republic was amongst the Holy Trinity of breweries (at least to me) to seek out as a New Jersey resident. Stone Brewing Company and Bell's Brewery completed the trifecta, with none of them being available in the state at the time. Save for the likes of Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Anderson Valley and North Coast, California breweries weren't really making a big push here and Bell's was sticking to it's Michigan roots by remaining primarily a Midwest brand. I can recall a trip or two up to Half Time Beverage in Poughkeepsie, NY and coming home with a haul of stuff from these breweries (well, not Bell's as they weren't and still are not in New York either) and feeling like a kid just back from the candy store. Fortunately, Bear Republic and Stone have been available now for some time in New Jersey, so I can now drive five minutes down the street as opposed to two plus hours north to satisfy my craving (Bell's on the other hand, is still leaving the state in the dark...come on, Larry, you're in Pennsylvania...just keep going across the river!). Unfortunately, because they are in New Jersey now I skip over them more than I should, as I can get them anytime. Tonight I decided to revisit one of the beers that has eluded me (my own fault) for a while now: Red Rocket Ale.

I remember this one being much hoppier overall, with a distinct pine flavor to it, but it is much more subdued and balanced now...or perhaps I just remember incorrectly. Regardless, it's still nothing to scoff at. Caramel malt takes hold of you in both the nose and flavor and guides you throughout. Along the way, you pick up some toasted malt and the aforementioned pine hops, as well as a decent bit of darker fruit, although I'd say the fruit comes into play in the aroma more than it does in the flavor. While the ABV is fairly tame (6.8%), there's a definite alcohol presence here, but this time it comes through more in the aroma than the flavor, where it primarily keeps to the end of each sip. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and has what can best be described a a 'stickiness' to it. Interesting, in a good way.

This isn't exactly the beer I remember, as noted above, but it's close enough and works just fine as is now. Maybe I did pull a Roger Clemens and misremember this one (kinda fitting given the beer name here), or maybe my taste buds have changed over the years...who knows and really, who cares as long as it's still good in the end? Starting with the great looking pour that's a deep amber color with a huge foamy off-white head, and ending with the last sip, I've got no complaints at all with the Red Rocket Ale. It's a nice hybrid of the Red and Scottish styles and will be finding it's way back into my refrigerator soon.

Beer, Hopback, Bear Republic, California, Red Rocket, Ale, Stone, Bell's