Alaskan Brewing Company Imperial Red Ale

I really don’t want this blog to be all about tasting notes. They aren’t that interesting and there are a million other sites doing them. But I’ve tasted so many great beers in the last couple of months. I have a desktop full of notes that I haven’t had the time to post. When Garrett Oliver was in town a while back to plug the Oxford Companion to Beer he said that working on a book takes over your life. It’s true. Working on two at once is just plain stupid. Anyway, I’m trying to get caught up on some of these tasting notes, so please bear with me. Hopefully you enjoy them.

Alaskan king crabs can weigh as much as 24 pounds and stretch 5 feet from tip to tip. Who knew? These giant, red crustaceans were the inspiration for Imperial Red Ale, the winter release in the Alaskan Brewing Company’s Pilot Series. While many winter seasonal beers are malt-forward, this 8.5%, West Coast style, red ale loads on the hops.

Here’s my notes:

Alaskan Imperial Red AleImperial Red Ale
Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, Alaska
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Serving Style: 22 oz bottle

Aroma: The lead-off is mostly hops; bight citrus – Lemons, grapefruit, and tangerines. The hops lay on a bed of caramel with shades of brown sugar and toffee. Dark fruits linger in the background as the beer warms up. A bit of alcohol comes in too. This is a sniffer.

Appearance: Beautiful to look at. Jewel-like ruby red and crystal clear. Fine-bubbled, long-lasting stand of ivory foam. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Flavor: Malt takes charge here – caramel, some toast, melanoidins – but it is amply balanced by the hops. There’s fruit. Some raisins or re-hydrated prunes. Dark cherry. And is that just the lightest touch of roast peeking around the corner? Maybe a hint of alcohol. The bitterness is assertive, but stops short of aggressive. It hangs around for quite a while in the finish though. Hop flavors are resiny, piney with lemon, citrus, and chamomile overtones. Bracing but balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. A bit creamy, but roughed up by hops. Medium carbonation. Some warming.

Overall Impression: This beer made me want food. It would be great next to dark-meat duck or roasted pork with some sort of chutney. It could work with tomato sauce dishes; cheesy manicotti or Chicken parmesan. It would also work with spicy though. Southern Indian potato curry, anyone?