Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Berghoff Brewery - Rock River Red Ale

I have come to the realization that I have a beer fridge full of beer (a sure sign of God's love).  However, in order to keep purchasing and reviewing news beers, I must drink and review the beers I already have in a more rapid fashion.  That said, I look to be churning out the reviews in the coming days/weeks.

Today's sample is from the Berghoff Brewery in Monroe, WI.  They have several locally-themed brews and this one's focus is on the Rock River, a fairly large local river known for its fishing, canoeing, and general summer relaxing.  Sounds like a good theme for a beer, right?  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 5/12
I am welcomed immediately by a dull sweetness followed quickly by lightly toasted, biscuity malt.  There is no hop aroma of which to speak. This is not a major concern as red ales are typically more defined by their malt characteristics and not the hops, but I was hoping for some hints at the beer's balance and a little more complexity.  The dull sweetness can almost be described as that of a dried fruit?  It is hard to specify in the aroma, but I look to having my suspicions confirmed in the flavor.

Appearance 2/3
The clarity was great for the style.  It is not crystal clear, but still appears bright.  The color was more that of a dark orange.  Normally, I would deduct for not being quite red/dark enough, but shades of red faded in and out from the center of the glass where the least light would pass through.  I'm not going to say it was like the aurora borealis or Tiffany Glass in its shifting of light, but it was very pretty to behold.  Not many beers change shades.  The head was fairly typical in its "foaminess" and did not go out of its way to compliment the beer.

Flavor 13/20
This beer is immediately sweet on the tongue.  The biscuity malts detected in the aroma can still be tasted, but they are being edged out by the sweetness.  The sweetness is apple cider-like and defines this beer.  Even for a traditionally malt-heavy red, this beer is not balanced.  You can experience a slight sensation of the hops, but it is only ever so faint and only during the aftertaste and occasionally during exhale.  There is no "bite" in this red ale.

Mouthfeel 3/5
There are really no news of note in the mouthfeel category.  It is light bodied, light-medium carbonation, and no flaws (astringency, etc).  However, for a bottle which mentions "craft brewing" several times on the bottle, there is nothing that really stands out about its mouthfeel either.

Overall Impression 4/10
I am left wanting a bit with this beer.  Its sweetness is the predominant flavor and does not really yield to much else.  It seems like an introduction into craft beers for someone accustomed to macros.  While it is true to style, this particular offering is rather generic and does not declare itself as an excellent example to its genre.

Total 27/50
This beer has a flavor and it is sweet.  Almost to the point where it tastes like a malty, less-crisp cousin of a cider.  What makes this really unfortunate is that I have fond memories of red ales (and hefes) being a gateway into craft beers.  This one may have something to offer those who are unfamiliar to a more flavorful beer, but its single characteristic (sweetness) is far from complex and will not likely be intriguing to more experienced cerevisaphiles.  I had not experienced Berghoff Brewery before this sampling and this was one flavor in a variety 12-pack.  I am all for second chances and wish them better luck in their future reviews.

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