- Mike Riedel
For the immediate future, it seems clear that we're going to need to reevaluate our drinking and socializing practices. Sitting my ass down at the pub with a fresh pint of beer is beginning to feel more like a faded dream. I've noticed the way I enjoy beer now has also changed. I now drink bigger bottles, where I previously looked at those in smaller packaging. A beer's booziness is also less of a factor; the "diver down" flag definitely seems to be getting more use than in previous years. So starting this week, I'll introduce Beer Nerd's exclusive Quarantine Desirability Factor along with my traditional tasting notes. Now you can safely pair your suds with whatever cloistering situation you may be stuck with. You're welcome.
Red Rock 25th Anniversary Ale: It's hard to believe that Red Rock is a full quarter of a century old. To celebrate, the gang decided to go big with a Belgian style Quadruple Ale, which pours a clear mahogany brown color with plenty of ruby light sneaking through. The nose brings aged malts, almost like an English old ale. Sweet malts hit next with molasses, brown sugar and candied sugar, along with some toasty brown malts that have that gently-aged, with an old-ale-like aroma, just a bit of booze, clean heat and faint hints of dark fruit. Overall, this one is fairly light on the nose.
The taste starts with dark fruits, candied raisins and reminding me of Fig Newtons. Then it goes straight into sweet flavors of molasses--tons of it, almost as if they poured molasses-based rum into the mash. The booze kicks in a bit and brings a tingling, warming feel. Brown sugar and candied sugar flavors slip in next, with an almost starchy corn stalk sugar feel. Some nutty toffee flavors round out the sticky parts, accompanied by some dryer malts and a hint of cooked vegetables mixed with Cracker Jack. Towards the back, a little cocoa rounds it out. The finish is still fairly sweet, a bit sticky and syrupy. Booze kicks in again at the finish and lingers throughout.
Quarantine Desirability: As this Belgian-inspired beer clocks in at 12.5 percent and comes in a German-made 500 milliliter bottle, its cloistering factor is on the high side. I would place this somewhere between "couch coma" and "sidewalk chalk art with the neighborhood kids." I don't know your relationship with your neighbors, so proceed accordingly.
Kiitos Red is the New Pink: Pours a lovely deep, slightly bronzed red color, which comes close to the pink mentioned on the label. The nose is quite grainy, with a thin toffee sweetness backing it up. Some leafy-sweet and slightly earthy hops hide behind it, especially when the beer is swirled; marmalade sweet-citrus notes also tickle the nostrils. The taste is similarly hoppy, with more grainy notes and a light body. But there are subtle complexities here: The grain has a wholesome character to it, toasted biscuits and whole grains, mingling with some marzipan and mixed berries. There's a little honeyed sweetness and some pleasantly biting hop bitterness on the back as well. It might just be the hint of extra dry-hopping, but it provides a bit of a cut on the finish, which is nice.
Quarantine Desirability: This ale supporting the Pink Boots Society--a non-profit dedicated to women in the brewing industry--comes in a 16-ounce can, at 5.0 percent ABV. The cloistering factor is "medium" to "pissing-off the spouse." It also supports a range of quarantine activities including video chatting, over-bleaching the bed sheets and removing dog shit from flip flops.
Look to Red Rock and Kiitos' respective shops for these ales. As always, cheers!