San Diego, CA
One of my all-time favorite beers. I was feeling a little silly and perhaps a bit punchy about the beer, as I have read some reviews lately of people describing this as a whole lotta hops and not much else, so maybe I'm a bit overly combative. Sorry.
I originally reviewed this on BA on 2005-06-09, then updated that review a few days later. I'm including the original text of that review here, as this is the first time I'm doing a video review of a bottle that I've reviewed in text form before. (Unless you count getting Pilsner Urquell and Budvar in Prague, but that's a special circumstance.)
My numerical rating: 9.5/10
My original review:
Purchased from Midtown Wine and Spirits, Nashville, TN.
I honestly didn't think I'd like this beer. Perhaps I was swayed by the ad copy on the back of the bottle, but I was thinking that this would be a super-hopped monster that I would personally find very disagreeable, as I am not a big fan of overhoppy beers. Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty hoppy brew, but it's not so far out of whack that it's intimidating; in fact, the hops and the fruit flavors actually work pretty well together. This beer deserves its high ranking among beer advocates, and now I only wish I'd bought a couple more of these when I went up to Nashville a couple of weeks ago.
Appearance is, for me, the best part of this beer. Forget the fantastic printed bottle, forget the clever ad copy on the back that informs the potential buyer of how intense this beer is, and just give this beer a nice solid pour into a pint glass. Pours a deep, deep, red color and forms a fantastically creamy head that sticks around for the entire length of the beer, even when topping off the glass from the bottle. Looks almost like a ruby stout, it's so thick and dark -- I was totally impressed by the appearance of this beer, so give it one of my very-rare fives.
Smell is very nice, with a hop character that is very present, and beneath it a nice fruity ester. It made me think of a very bitter apple juice, actually, but I mean it in the best way possible. I didn't get a lot more complexities off the nose, but it was a very nice beer to sniff and I enjoyed it a lot.
Taste is very similar to the nose -- I didn't get any suprises here. Again, reminded me of a very, very bitter apple juice, pleasant as far as it goes, but nothing that knocked my socks off. The beer tasted good and finished clean, leaving little aftertaste, so I'm giving it high marks -- very pleasant.
The mouthfeel was a very nice thing about this beer, as the one real shock I had in store was just how thick this thing was. The beer coated my tongue admirably, swishing it around in my mouth made me realize that the last word I'd use to describe this beer was "watery"; this beer almost felt like syrup going down. Still, it was a cleansing kind of thickness, and left virtually no residue behind. Again, made me think of a nice stout in terms of consistency.
Good high score on drinkability. The clean finish and good taste make it a very easy-drinking beer, but I can't imagine finishing off more than one 22oz bottle of this beer, and probably couldn't even do one if it was very hot outside at that particular moment. Drinkable, enjoyable, but I'm going to stop at just one, thanks.
Next time I'm in Tennessee I'm absolutely going to buy a few bottles of this to keep on-hand. Too expensive to really drink everyday, but it's a nice beer to have for when it's needed. Until I can lay my hands on it again, I guess I'll get buy on Rogue American Amber.
I bought another bottle of this in Fayetteville, and upon another tasting, I've decided to up my "taste" rating from a 4 to a 4.5. Really fantastic taste, nicely balanced between hoppiness and sweet tartness. I only wish this stuff didn't cost six dollars a bottle, and I didn't have to drive forty-five minutes to get it.
(I was very wordy in those days!)