Archive for the 'Red Hook' category
We don’t often see much of Red Hook in these parts except for their fairly generic six-packs, and the occasional 12-pack variety box that we’ll pick up when we can’t decide on a single genre. In fact, I’m not sure I was aware that they even produced specialty bombers until I saw this one on the shelf a while back. And, sad to say, you can gauge my excitement by the fact that this beer has been sitting in the fridge for a couple of months now. I want to drink this and get it out of my life before summer gets too far along and I swear off stouts completely…
So, the Double Black pours a thick motor-oil black color, as one might expect. The head started off thick, dense, and caramel-colored. But, to be honest, it dwindled down to nothing much quicker than I expected. In the nose, this is pretty chocolatey and has the expected hints of coffee. The flavor of this is as rich as I expected and even more flavorful than anticipated. Initially, there is a super-rich chocolate sweetness on the tip of the tongue. This is subsequently met by a bit of bitterness. The bitterness may or may not be attributable to a hop contribution, but it tastes more like a bittersweet chocolate with a rootsy, earthy tone. This doesn’t last very long, before a sharper dark bread sweetness rears it’s head and carries the beer on through the mouth. And all along with these flavors is a backbone of coffee grounds that actually serves the beer very nicely. Honestly, I’m quite impressed with this – moreso than I expected. It is the summer, and I am shying away from these types of beers about now, but this really is pretty tasty…
There have been quite a few Red Hook brews that have darkened the door sill of sevepack and yet we have only documented 3 reviews of their products. I can’t give a good explanation, only to say it’s likely we have sessioned their offerings rather than taking a few extra moments to put our thoughts on “paper.” And so tonight I’ll delve into the intricacies of Red Hook’s Blonde Ale.
This beer has a light colored, golden hue; as its name suggests. The smell is light but uncharacteristic of what I would consider a blonde ale. It is sugary-sweet but lacks the citric feel I’m accustomed to. It also lacks the crisp, biting sensation I expected. The taste is rounder and more outstanding than the taste but, again, not what I expected. There is little fruitiness, of any kind. Rather, I feel most of the flavor and sweetness comes from the degradation of the malt because it has a touch of saltiness added – in short, kinda sweet and buttery. There is a touch of lemon that is noticeable but not substantial. The crispness from carbonation and/or a subtle hop mouthfeel is virtually nonexistent. In my mind this is a thick, over-flavored pilsner and, with that being said, it doesn’t live up to its name. It is in stark contrast to other blondes that I’ve had. More specifically, it doesn’t have the ” Belgian-esque” feel that I like. However, I should note, again, that I’ve enjoyed Red Hook products on many an occasions. So, while at this moment I’m being critical and it doesn’t appear I like this beer, it actually tastes pretty good, it’s just not fitting into the genre. What does that mean? Well nothing really, only that in my mind they have mischaracterized a good tasting, drinkable beer. I’ll keep drinking it, but won’t refer to it as a blonde ale in the future.
Honestly, I grabbed this beer thinking that I’d had it before and didn’t like it that much. However, I couldn’t confirm said rumors, so I decided to pick it up and give it another go. Thankfully, I was incorrect in my assumption.
This beer pours a rather clear golden color with a minor stark white head. The aroma of this is lightly sour and grassy, like a field full of freshly cut hay. In the mouth, this beer is very grainy, with a slightly noticeable rye twang, but nothing as pronounced as what you’ll find in other rye beers from folks like Terrapin. The flavor through the mouth, isn’t overwhelming. Beyond this graininess, there is some light sweetness and a tad bit of citrus sourness. This washes down very clean, leaving you with a quenched, clean palate. Actually, I’d rate this as one of the better summer beers I’ve had this season. The rye characteristics and light sourness make it very thirst quenching, and it washes nice and clean. Furthermore, that rye twang sets it apart from the more typical summer ales. Good job, Red Hook – I’m glad I gave you the benefit of the doubt!
Every Friday for the better part of three years I’ve been coming to the White Horse Tavern in New York’s West Village, but I’ve never really taken the time to give the local ale a thorough going-over. I figured a cold October Saturday was occasion enough to get a better feel for this cornerstone of New York’s all-hours drinking scene.
The saloon’s history and character are the biggest draws for me (the hot waitresses, too, add a nice dash of spice). Since 1880 the White Horse has been the refuge for anyone passing through Greenwich Village looking to drown his sorrows or to wax poetic about politics and art. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is said to have swilled 18 whiskeys at the White Horse bar before stumbling out into the night, slipping into a coma, and dying the next morning. Over the years the wood benches and mahogany bar have been polished, respectively, by the asses and elbows of a steady stream of notable New York nobles, tourists, and West Village locals. This place has a very homey feel to it, serves up quality bar food, and is a great place to visit and drink day or night. The outdoor seating in the spring and fall is ideal for people watching on a lazy afternoon. And if anyone gives you a hard time for spending an afternoon at a bar, just inform them you’re researching New York’s historic literary hot spots. That makes it ok.
Oh yeah, the beer: The White Horse Ale has a pleasant, almost ruby color but the magic Vanishing Head trick is somewhat bemusing. A fun game would be to whip up the bubbles with a straw and see how many times you can “headless horseman” before the foam degrades into a thin oil slick on top of the beer. My guess is the record could only be about two or three, maybe four for the nimble-tongued among us. In the mouth, the ale has a decent metallic (hoppy?) burn and there’s a generic fruity quality across the tongue. The ale gets off to a forceful start but then blends to a very even finish with a lingering nickel aftertaste.
When asked what he could tell me about the White Horse Ale, the bartender, Paul, scrunched up his face into a disappointed scowl and said, “It’s nothing special. It’s brewed for us out West by Red Hook.” He then went back to serving the thirsty masses.
The beer is mediocre, in my opinion, but the bar gets top marks and I’ve voted it “Best Place to Pretend You’re an Alcoholic Literary Genius”.
**Information about the Red Hook version of the White Horse Ale has been hard to come by. Updates forthcoming as I gain access to reliable intel.
Matt - September 22, 2006
To be honest, it is really really difficult to appreciate this after the prior Shipyard pumpkin ale. It is just such a different beer, and the sweetness of the previous taste really overpowers it at first. But, I’m gonna give it a try. The aroma on this one is of a bittersweet malt with a metallic tint, and the color is a deep ruby amber. In the mouth, this beer is very ‘autumn-y’ in a very different way than the pumpkin ale. The flavor has an immediate sweetness to it, but it is a less refined and wilder sweetness. This sweetness barrels headlong into a mild sourness, slightly akin to that of a Flemish wild ale. Finally, this subsides with a hop bitterness that rests on the back of the tongue for several seconds. I’m tempted to say that this is a rather complicated ale for the variety, but it could just be my tastebuds playing tricks on me. Nevertheless, it’s a nice take on the season, and a tasty beer. -Ben
Ben is right this is a very earthy beer. It has a much thicker mouthfeel than the pumpkin ale. The bitterness seems to cling to the sides of the mouth. There is also a spicy flavor that develops as the ale flows down the throat. I enjoy this beer but for completely different reasons than the pumpkin. It is deep and complex, and the miriad of flavors change much like the autumn leaves. -Matt