It’s not too often I see beers from Roots Organic Brewing around here, so when I saw their Island Red in the bottle (around Christmastime, this was), I was sure to pick it up. Roots is out of Portland, and generally earn good buzz.
I had trouble coming up with a style for Island Red, and here’s why:
We call this a RED stout. Very full bodied complex ale brewed with a good amount of oats and barley, which lend to the nice bread and malt flavors and help Give this RED a very rich & creamy head.
It’s the oats that are unusual here; otherwise, this is a Northwest Red, I think. At 5.7% alcohol, it’s not too heavy, either.
(I remember reading somewhere that this is Roots’ flagship beer, but I can’t swear to that. Also, there’s a scarcity of image of it online; I pulled the one I’m running from John Foyston’s OregonLive beer blog.)
Appearance: Murky, deep brown-red color when held to the light… almost a brick color. Big three fingers of head built up at first… it’s tan with an orange tint, and leaves nice lacing.
Smell: Big malty nose with a Belgian candy sugar sweetness. Subtle, spicy hop character I’m having trouble defining. Reminds me of a Belgian (dark?) ale.
Taste: Hop character is prominent here: spicy, earthy, a punch of resin that’s floral but not overwhelming. There’s a strongish alcohol note that has to be false if it’s truly 5.7%. Trying to ID this hop (or hops) but it’s eluding me… Liberty? Challenger? Chinook? A bit dry, not at all like the malty sweet nose. Some roast malts (or even black patent) contributing to the bitterness…
Mouthfeel: Somewhat light, thirst quenching—a creamy, almost watery character that’s not negative or detracting at all. Refreshing with a bit of a hop bite.
Overall: It left me scratching my head a bit over it… I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite, but it’s not at all bad, either. A "Red Stout." Hmm.