Brewery: New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colorado
Beer: Red Hoptober
Serving: 12 oz bottle
Glassware: New Belgium globe
Information: 6.0% ABV, 60 IBUs, Best before 18NOV12
Style: American Amber / Red Ale
Price: $8.99 / 6-pack
Availability: Fall Seasonal
Cellaring: Not recommended for extended aging.
Pairings: Grilled beef burger with blue cheese and lettuce, loaded baked potato on side.
From the label to the beer, Red Hoptopber evokes a deep crimson sunset shimmering with stark clarity. Carbonation keeps the frothy ivory head alive as it slowly descends to a loose layer, leaving clumps of it’s former self on the glass.
With a host of earthy aromas, Red Hoptober immediately smells like a close relative of Fat Tire’s. Toasted malt suggests peanut butter spread thinly over a golden brown piece of whole wheat toast. Faint chocolate notes follow up as the earthy hops jump in the mix; dried leaf pile and crisp, light pine offer notes of fall in the blend. Mild, older citrus rind finds it’s way in the background too.
While the aroma might suggest a relative of Fat Tire’s, the flavor is quite the contrary. Opening with plenty of malty complexity, toast and light nuttiness continue on from the aroma, as does the faint hint at chocolate. Hops are definitely showcased throughout the flavor, but take a back seat, slowly entering along the finish. Earthiness jumps forward again, carefully balancing the toasted malt characteristics with a recently cut and raked lawn under a tall tree shedding it’s leaves.
Red Hoptober is medium-bodied but here is where the hops have their moment; crisp and earthy, the bigger maltiness of the flavor is held back with restraint, gently bitter on the finish. If ever there was a fall seasonal that evokes the feeling of fall preemptively, this would be it.
Seasonal releases seem to be departing their seasons with more haste each year and fall is no stranger to that. But Red Hoptober seems to bridge the gap nicely, offering some toasted malt and enough crisp hop to battle the ongoing heat as the days, with almost painstakingly slow speed, grow cooler. I can certainly get behind this beer for now. What pains me, though, is it’s mid-November best by date. After all, if the weather’s course is any indication, that’s when Red Hoptober and it’s ilk will be truly at their prime.
Score: 90 / 100 - Exceptional