Beer UP is an attempt to examine as many of the fine craft brews across the country as possible. Following the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, the rubric has five simple categories: appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and overall experience. With the help of you, dear reader, we’ll create a discussion about what makes a good beer, why that’s important, and what it all means, man.
Founders Brewing’s Red’s Rye Pale Ale from Grand Rapids, Michigan
Serving style: Bottle poured into glass
Location: My apartment (it was not 1000 degrees this week)
Appearance: By far and away, the Red’s Rye PA is the most distinct-looking beer I’ve had since beginning this column. Its amber tone gives the impression that this brew might taste best in the fall, one you’d sip while sitting around a campfire wearing a big, floppy hoodie. But it’s not intimating, as the reddish orange color comes across both warm and welcoming.
Aroma: It smells sweet and floral, and a bit piney. The scent is full of hops, but still very sharp. The bready aroma lets you know that it won’t necessarily be the easiest drink, but you’ll appreciate what you have to go through to suck it down. A bit of caramel cuts through the rest of the fragrance, but the backbone is the rye. I guess that’s why it’s in the name.
Taste: Red’s Rye PA is a very balanced beer. Like its aroma, there’s quite a bit happening in the flavor. It’s both a little hopsy and a little citrusy, but not one part pops out. The lingering aftertaste is a bit bitter though, which was the one part of the beer I didn’t really enjoy as much.
Mouthfeel: My first note in this section is “covered every square inch of my mouth.” In hindsight, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a smooooooth drink. The light carbonation let’s you really enjoy the beer’s rich flavor. Being made with rye, there’s a chewiness to it as well. I don’t want to say that this beer is heavy, because that might give the wrong impression, but there’s quite a bit of body to Red’s Rye PA — at least much more than your standard pale ale.
Overall Experience: This is a good beer! It’s really not a surprise that it comes from Michigan; there’s a definitive upper Midwest taste to the Red’s Rye PA. But everything about it, from the romanticized reddish color to the meaty mouthfeel, makes this a good brew for entertaining at a barbecue or picnic or whatever. It might be a little too much for someone who’s not a “beer person,” but if your friends are fans of craft beers, this is a guaranteed hit.