In 6 days of the beer advent calendar we have gone through Scandinavia, hopped over to the UK, flown across to the USA, back over to Italy and now today we have arrived in Australia. This has been quite the tour of world beers and has been incredibly enjoyable so far.
Today’s beer comes to us from Bridge RoadBrewery in Victoria, Australia. Victoria (the city not the territory) is located about halfway between Canberra and Melbourne in the Australian Capital Territory. Conceived in 2004/5 by Ben Kraus in his dad’s back shed, Bridge Road Brewery now produces 25Hl (2500 liters) of beer in over 20 different styles of beer.
This brewery likes to push the limits on beer recipes trying to appease their “what will happen if we do this” type mentality. They use locally sourced hops and malts and have a really unique way of profiling their beer based on the Malt level (out of 10) and the Hop level (out of 10) to allow beer drinkers to choose the style that most suits their taste preference.
The beer that has been selected for the advent calendar is called “Fat man, red suit, big sack” and is an India Red Ale. Like the Hop Blanc, this is a red ale that has been hopped like an IPA. It was developed specifically to be exported to Canada and showcases some of the Aussie hops: Galaxy, Enigma and Topaz.
Now, red ale is primarily used as a catch all for any beer less than a Dark ale. Some argue red ale is not really a “style” of beer but rather a pale ale that is malted differently and thus has different hues. Amber ales, red ales, and Irish Red Ales have become quite popular with breweries and are being produced worldwide. Given that, I would say that whether it is an actual style or not, it has been widely accepted as one.
Red Ales range from amber to dark red in hue and are primarily used to focus on malts but can be hopped, like in this case. Most have light fruitiness and as Aussie hops tend to bring tropical and citrus notes, I expect this one will be the same. Now, onto today’s beer!
Appearance: Amber red and cloudy. Head was intense, not sure what happened but ended up with ¾ glass of head before dissipating. Left foamy on top that would not dissipate.
Smell: Citrus, passion fruit and pineapple all come through quite noticeably. There is also the sweet malty smell, almost like caramel.
Taste: The citrus, pineapple and passion fruit notes come through in a lively burst of tart bitterness that is really quite nice. It melds perfectly with the sweetness of the malt and is incredibly well balanced. Great bitterness that isn’t too much but exactly what you’d expect in a hopped beer.
Mouth feel: Light carbonation with medium body. Smooth in the mouth.
Overall: Really showcases the hops which was the point of this particular beer. I haven’t had many India Red Ales in the past but for an IPA style beer this one is really well balanced and showcases the flavors really well. An excellent example of taking two styles of beer and melding them seamlessly.
Do I like it: Yes! I love IPAs though and this is a really good example of that style of beer, even if it’s called an India Red Ale. For me, the red just refers to the color as this is basically an IPA through and through. Very well done Bridge Road. I would certainly buy this beer.