Bear Republic’s Red Rocket Ale is reviewed by Chris Hall.
Red Rocket Ale
Bear Republic Brewing Co, California
With the likes of white stouts and black IPAs on the shelves and bars of Britain these days, do we really still have any use for ‘beer styles’? They are either ocean-wide categories that fail to capture the essence of the beer (like, say, ‘bitter’), or esoteric eccentricities like those mentioned above. Are we better off just creating beers that are unlike any other, and knowing them by name and reputation? Bear Republic’s Red Rocket Ale makes a good case for the prosecution.
This is a ‘bastardised Scottish style red ale’, by Bear Republic’s own definition. This suggests something sharp, roasty and bursting with bitterness, but the strength of the beer alone should tell you there is much more to it than that. The beer pours a rich, crimson-tinged mahogany, like a pint of blood. The sanguine appearance is thankfully dispelled by the luscious and long lasting head of tan bubbles that crown this beast. Delicious scents of caramel, roasted malt, pine, fresh bread and even a little mango and lychee all make their presence felt. In terms of appearance and aroma, Red Rocket resembles a new-wave, highly-hopped porter.
The first sip screams malt and caramel sweetness, thick enough to paint your house with. It sits heavily while a gradual rumble of piney, resinous hops roll across the tongue. Just when you think it really is a red ale after all, a blast of roasted coffee signals the beginning of an Imperial-stout-esque finish, full of red fruit and dark chocolate. I think my tongue whimpered at some point. The current benchmark for craft red ale strength is more like 5% ABV, but Red Rocket has so much going on that it carries its 6.8% ABV magnificently. The alcohol, whilst tangible, is simply the fuel for this stratospheric flavour ride.
I should also note that this beer is most commonly available in a 650ml bottle, and makes a great beer to share over a rich, sticky dessert or a couple of steaks. As beer usually does, it goes even better with itself, but don’t blame Bear Republic if you feel like you left your brain on the moon if you choose to enjoy a whole one to yourself.