Both of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery and Worthy Brewing released new red ales for 2017, and both sent samples my way. So for this Tuesday Tastings review roundup it made sense to compare and contrast the newest reds on the block.
The latest Bond Street Series steps into the vacancy left when Deschutes discontinued their popular Cinder Cone Red. With Swivelhead, they have definitely brewed towards the “I” (India) end of the acronym spectrum with ample hops. It’s 6.5% alcohol by volume and 70 IBUs, and brewed with seven different hop varieties. Their description:
This India Style Red Ale has a signature Deschutes Brewery twist: herbal hop character from European varietals (added in American quantities), along with a light melon accent from Australian hops. While the label alone on this beer is enough to turn heads, cracking open the bottle is when the real magic happens with a distinct hop aroma and smooth caramel maltiness.
It pours a very clear, red-amber color with a light tan head, pretty textbook for what you expect of a “red” style. The aroma is full of roast and crystal malts with a crisp, herbal bitter character that’s grassy and a touch earthy. Those hops are a blend of classic and newer varieties, finishing with a savory fruitiness that hints at a touch of pepper.
When you sip it’s full of bitter greens right up front, dandelion greens and nettles, with a spicy-earthy hop flavor that exhibits a pronounced pine note. There is a sweet and roasty malt presence that finishes dry and well attenuated. It’s very clean, with a nice red ale “tang” (that touch of roast) and definitively hoppy. The medium body leaves a piney hop aftertaste.
It’s sixes all around with this beer, being 6.6% abv and 66 IBUs, and is the latest year-round offering from Worthy to come to cans. Stoker is a replacement for the brewery’s now-discontinued Eruption Red, and compared to Deschutes, this red ale is maltier and fruitier, though not much. Worthy’s description:
First we shovel in four Oregon hops to spark the flame, then we keep it glowing with Mandarina Bavariana buds until this Hopped-Up Red roars with flickers of citrusy aroma balanced by the copper-colored embers of malty sweetness.
The beer is a clear amber that’s nearly brown in color, with amber-orange highlights when held to the light. The off-white head is lacy and fine. The hop aroma goes piney and citrus fruit with a hint of juicy fruit gum undertone. If I had to quantify it, I’d say a piney, resiny hop juice tempered by mellow citron peel. Notes of caramel malts and maybe even a hint of black patent.
Flavor-wise, it presents as a somewhat dry red ale with hints of of that roasty (black patent) malt note, with ample bitter citrus peel squeezed into it along with the piney, sprucey hops. The malt is nutty and chewy, and as it warms even more fruit notes come out of the hops. It’s medium bodied and well-attenuated, with a crisp, dry snap finish.