Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Loakal Red

I was warned that The Bruery's Loakal Red, while good, was hard to get through; that its strong oak overtones were daunting.  I had hesitated opening the bottle I had bought in late December, waiting for the "right" time.  I decided that the right time was last Saturday night, and opened Loakal Red to go along with a beef and barley stew.  The warning proved unfounded.  Loakal Red is a smooth, approachable red ale, oak and all.

I have yet to have a The Bruery beer that does not challenge you, or one that is not multi-dimensional.  If you are in the mood for a simple red ale, Loakal is not for you.  But if you're in the mood for something that will grab your attention and taste good, than Loakal is your beer.  Loakal was highly carbonated and had a big, slow dissipating foam.  From the first taste, Loakal's roasted malts push through, giving it a rich flavor and establishing its credibility as a red ale. 

Loakal had a distinct, near chalky dryness in mid-taste that I don't usually find in red ales, but which I liked and that added character and depth.  I like red ales that have enough hops to stand up to the malts that distinguish red ales.   Loakal's finish was punctuated by a mild, yet distinct hop bitterness.  Loakal's ABV was only 6.9%, which kept it drinkable and not at all boozy.  It is a balanced, well-crafted red ale.

A portion of Loakal was aged in new American oak barrels, which I take to mean were not old wine barrels.  Loakal did not impart flavors of either red or white wine, which was good.  Loakal's stay in its oak barrels just gave it an overall woodiness.   Loakal is an oaky beer, but I did not find its oak flavors dominating.  I found that the oak presence was an excellent complement to the malt.  The Bruery can make some intimidating beers.  Loakal is not one of these.  It is complex, but approachable, and a beer worth trying.

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