Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Showdown: Red Ale: Rogue vs Bear Republic vs Knee Deep vs Blue Frog

Our next showdown looks at a style of ale that can have many flavor profiles: red ales. Red ales are a west coast take the traditional amber ale that feature west coast and American hops and barely.

IPAs typically keep a similar low-profile malt flavor and focus on the hop combination, red ales tinker with both. Various hop and malt profiles can be found in each of the red ales we tasted; Rogue's Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale, Blue Frog's Red Frog Ale, Knee Deep's Immigration Red Ale, and Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale.

Our goal here was not to find and rate ales with similar flavor, ABV and IBU profiles, but to simply look at the Red Ale section pick some local and well-known styles and figure out which one you might want to try over another.

Rogue Ales: Dry Hopped St. Rogue Ale
Hometown: New Port, Oregon
IBU: 44
ABV: 5.1%
Recent Awards: 2011 World Beer Championship - Gold
Rate Beer: 3.53 out of 5
Beer Advocate: 3.82 out of 5

Bear Republic Brewing Company: Red Rocket Ale
Hometown: Healdsburg, California
IBU: 67
ABV: 6.8%
Recent Awards: 2009 California State Fair - Silver

Rate Beer:  3.76 out of 5
Beer Advocate: 4.09 out of 5

Blue Frog Grog and Grill: Red Frog Ale
Hometown: Fairfield, California
IBU: 31
ABV: 6%

Rate Beer: 3.05 out of 5
Beer Advocate: 3.56 out of 5

Knee Deep Brewing Company: Immigration Red Ale
Hometown: Lincoln, California
IBU: 31
ABV: 6%

Rate Beer: 3.18 out of 5
Beer Advocate:  3.68

We had about 10 people over and asked each of them to taste the ales, rank and rank them 1 through 4. 1 being the best, 4 the worst.

Rank    Votes
1--------- 2
2--------- 2
3--------- 3
4--------- 3
Avg Rank: 2.7 (1 being best)
Remarks:The tasters were all over the board with St Rogue, some thought the body was too light, lacked aroma, and was overall too mild. Some enjoyed the subtlety.

Blue Frog:
Rank    Votes
1--------- 0
2--------- 4
3--------- 4
4--------- 2
Avg Rank: 2.8 (1 being best)
Remarks:  Most tasters were turned off by a sour or bitter taste and thought the flavor profile reminded them of a hefeweizen. Some tasters found a nice coffee taste and enjoyed the wheatiness. 

Knee Deep
Rank    Votes
1--------- 2
2--------- 0
3--------- 4
4--------- 4
Avg Rank: 3 (1 being best)
Remarks: One taster described a fishy taste and another a sour taste. Some enjoyed a nutty and sweet taste.

Bear Republic
Rank    Votes
1--------- 6
2--------- 2
3--------- 0
4--------- 2
Avg Rank: 1.8 (1 being best)
Remarks: tasters enjoyed a great mouthfeel, sweet and malty taste and aroma, with a balance of bitter hops.

Well it looks like, hands down, Red Rocket Ale won followed by St Rogue, Red Frog and Immigration Red. St Rogue looks like it has a specific taste that some really enjoy or do not. Red Frog and Immigration Red Ale had some fans and detractors, which is understandable considering they were up against two excellent breweries. However, Red Frog seemed to fair well against a skilled brewery like Rogue.

The takeway is that Red Rocket is a Must Have It. Red Frog and St. Rogue are Try It, and Immigration Red is Skip It.

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