Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Green Flash Hop Head Red

A good red ale is not an anachronism. It seemed like every microbrewery had a red ale when the initial craft beer wave started in the '80s and early '90s. As the craft beer industry evolved in the late '90s and into the '00s and brewers went bold, the red ale got lost in the shuffle. Brewers like Stone, Alesmith, and Russian River don't even offer regular red ales.

Sometimes I like to go "old school" and have a red ale, but I have found that it is hard to find a good one. Too many red ales are too malty and don't have enough hop bitterness. Some even have a strange metallic characteristic in the aftertaste. I don't think a brewery can hide its mistakes with a heavy does of hops or spices, like with other styles, when brewing a red ale. To me, a red ale is either good or bad, with little middle ground. Maybe this is why there are not too many red ales.

I like a red ale that is rich with hints of caramel sweetness, along with a good malt character balanced by a big helping of hops, and no strange aftertaste. Green Flash's Hop Head Red fits this description. Green Flash, on its website, hints that it is a red IPA, and I agree. This is an excellent red ale. It pours a deep amber with moderate foam that does stick around. It is sweet but has a large amount hop bitterness and an aftertaste that accents the roasted malts and hops. There are no weird flavors that show up to spoil the beer. This beer is my new red ale style benchmark.

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