Red Seal Ale

Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale – North Coast Brewing Co., Mendocino, CA

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History: ‘Malt and hops are beautifully married in this full-bodied, copper-red Pale Ale. Red Seal is generously¬†hopped for a long, spicy finish. An excellent accompaniment to grilled meats and rich sauces.’

Another beer I had yet to try but had seen often in the local grocery is this beautiful, golden-amber ale from the North Coast Brewery. Red Seal is so strikingly similar to Sierra Nevada that I had to do a bit of a double take. Visually it’s far more deep and rich and the head has nicer, clingier foam. The smell is, however, so nearly identical to its IPA brethren that a bit of a smirk hit me. I knew I was in for a jolt because -and I have to be honest here- I don’t generally favor toward India style ales. I’m not a huge fan of overtly bitter brews and the shock to the nose with this Red Seal was so crisp and hoppy that I had to worry. But that concern was quickly stifled.

A gentle swirl and another inhalation opened up a few more distant, background scents that really come out to combat the hefty bitterness of the hops. There’s some mild spice notes, a bit of a grapefruit undertone, and a really faint hint of the barley at the very end. With a sip you find that your nose, as is nearly always the case, is right and the flavor is a dead on match. Yes, the wallop of the bitter hops steps to the plate like Casey at the Bat, but the rest of the team: spices, grapefruit, barley, play their respective defensive positions really nicely. The hoppiness dies away leaving a nice, rich taste that hangs on through the next sip, which you can see through the really cool lacing of the head. A very nice, crisp, sipping beer perfect for summer nights and barbecues with friends.

Rating: * * * 1/2
Though all around better than Sierra Nevada IPA for me, it does still whack you pretty fiercely with its bitterness.