Friday, March 25, 2011

Red Poppy

I have always been skeptical of beers that generate buzz in the beer geek world.  The Lost Abbey's Red Poppy is one of those beers that is both rare and hyped, and I avoided buying it at $17 for a 375 ml bottle.  But when I was told it was going to be on tap at the Ocean Beach Pizza Port as part of a Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey night, I decided to go get a tulip glass full to taste for myself whether it was hype worthy.

I can unequivocally state that Red Poppy is worth the hype.  It is flat-out delicious, with its perfect complement of fruit and sourness.  Red Poppy is a Belgian-style Flanders Red Ale.  It poured with no foam and its color was an opaque mahogany, and like many Flanders Red Ales, Red Poppy was not the prettiest of beers.  But it was brewed for drinking not a beauty contest.  It is a sour beer with a sweet, fruit presence and hints of oak.  Red Poppy has more carbonation than its thin head would suggest.  Its sourness last long into the finish, which also had a touch of bitterness that accented the beer's sweetness.  Red Poppy's ABV is only 5.5%, but it drinks bigger than its ABV.  It has a richness I was not expecting and a full mouthful that is almost chewy.  This beer works on every level.

The Flanders Red Ale style has wide variation and interpretations.  You can find ABVs near 4% and over 10%, and sourness that ranges from mild to aggressive.   I reviewed Deschutes The Dissident, also a Flanders Red Ale, a few weeks back and found it lacking.  Its ABV was near 10% and its sourness was less pronounced, and it was not as approachable as Red Poppy.   Personal preferences will lead you towards either lower ABV beers like Red Poppy or Ommegang's Zuur, or towards bigger beers like The Dissident.  What ever your preference, Red Poppy is amazing.  Ocean Beach Pizza Port still had Red Poppy on tap late yesterday evening, but the five gallon keg is not expected to last much beyond today.  Get a tulip if you can.

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