Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Front Street - Raging River Ale

This brew, Front Street's Raging River Ale, was the second beer I had during my brief visit.  It was during this pint that I had a chance to talk to Jen, the wife of the husband/wife owner team.  In our brief talk she mentioned some talk of expansion!  This is great news for a local brewpub that definitely deserves its success.  Let's pour!

Photo again blatantly stolen from their website.
Aroma 10/12
The brew is definitely hop-leaning and the malt is not making its presence felt via the nose.  It is then a good thing that the hops are such a nice combination of citrus and pine.  This combined with an ester that recalls a bit of green apples is a very light and pleasant way to start this beer.

Appearance 2/3
A dark golden honey color with barely a covering of white head.  It is moderately translucent, bright, and very appealing in its shades of yellow.  Even an average amount of head and retention would have yielded a perfect rating in this category.
Photo is my own.
Flavor 18/20  
This beer starts off strong out of the gate with sweet notes of honey and almost a sugary sweetness!  Very light and refreshing.  The backbone starts with strong caramel tones, but has a lovely smorgasbord of sweet and light tartness involving the apple from the aroma, citrus from the hop, and a distinct floral tone that wraps everything up before featuring the hop bitter.   It should be noted that the hop flavors and bitter are almost completely separated in this brew.  The bitter does arrive in the very beginning of the finish.  It is an abrupt contrast to the prior sweetness, but an excellent finish that is appropriate for the style.  It continues the flowery sweetness while introducing the aforementioned hop bitter as well as an additional peppery hop flavor.  The pepper helps dry the finish and keeps it remarkably clean despite the mouth-watering sweetness introduced earlier.  Aftertaste is fairly clean, but does leave its bitter calling card on the edges of the tongue.

Mouthfeel 5/5
The beer has a medium body that feels heavier than its light color would have you believe.  Also, one is not accustomed to having light, hop-emphasizing beers attain this level of creaminess.  The carbonation is a perfect compliment and only adds to its refreshing nature being both abundant and non-distracting throughout the pint.  The mouthfeel is very nice and lends itself to the feeling that this is a more substantial offering of the style.

Overall Impression 9/10
This is a very impressive local offering!  It is clean, refreshing, bubbly beer with a complex hop profile.  It manages to neatly separate several hop varieties and showcase each one without becoming “hop crazy” or dominating the rest of the brew.

Total 44/50
This ranking puts this beer at the top of the excellent category and rightly so.  There is marvelous sweetness up front and a wonderful, complex garden full of hops to wrap up the flavor.  I am not sure how they separate the hop flavor and the bitter, but as I held it in my mouth I had to all but swallow it before those hop bitters became present.  It is definitely a two-phased beer.  This is not a bad thing; I rather enjoy the effect.   They finished it right by making this light ale with a dry finish.  I cannot wait to take another sip or order another.  Hoppy beers are not my forte, but I am coming to appreciate them more with every bottle.  This beer is no exception and I would recommend it to anyone taking that bold step into the world of IPAs and hoppy goodness.  As mentioned earlier, not only are hoppy beers not my forte, but they are also not usually my first choice off of the menu.  This beer is definitely an exception to the rule.  I will be back for this one.  Prost! 

Another stolen image.

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