Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red Ales — Lompoc Brewing vs. Maritime Pacific Brewing Co.

Lompoc Brewing
Proletariat Red

(Northwest Red Ale)
ABV 6.2%

Dark bourbony brown.
Roasted malts, root vegetables, sweet coffee.
Dry and almost savory with root veggies and roasted malt notes.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Malty (but not sweet!)
Finish: Slightly tannic with lingering roasted malts.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

Maritime Brewing Co.
Flagship Red Ale

(Red Alt Ale)
ABV 5.2%

Brownish orange.
Aroma: Sharp funky hops and roasted malts.
Flavor: Starts with some lemon water acidity followed by simple sweet malts.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Balanced
Finish: Acidic with some pine resin hop bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Mediocre

Blow by Blow
At first we thought it was fun — buying red ales with no idea as to what they might taste like. We were even lucky enough to get a red ale that we rated "fantastic." But after this battle, red ales are really starting to get annoying. Since there is no real style definition, when you buy a red ale it's like buying a lottery ticket. And if we continue with that analogy, this battle featured two losing tickets.

The Lompoc had almost no hop character at all. It was a big, smooth mouthful of roasted malts, with a root vegetable flavor that was more interesting than off-putting. The aroma was the same as the flavor with a bit of coffee thrown in for good measure. The strangest thing about this beer was that despite being very malty tasting it was not sweet.

The Flagship red had some serious funky hop aromas that were not particularly appealing. It followed with a very thin flavor that was all acidity and lemon water. The finish had some piny hops followed by a hint of bitterness.

Neither of these beers were that great and, to be honest, I'm not sure if it's us or if it's the beer. We seem to stubbornly hope that every red ale will be like those we've enjoyed in the past — nice reddish hue, big citrus hop profile with a good malty sweetness to balance it all out and a mildly bitter finish. But it seems that some breweries refuse to make beer solely to satisfy our specific ideals. The nerve!

The fight went back and forth — just when we thought the Proletariat was gaining control, the Flagship would get some wind in its sails and look like the stronger combatant. In the end, although it had none of the qualities we crave in a red ale, we gave the victory to the Proletariat. So if you like smooth, roasty, ambery beers give the Proletariat a try. And no, this does not mean that we are commies.

Winner by unanimous decision: Lompoc Brewing


  1. Man, I tried the Proletariat Red and figured it tainted/bad. That veggie funk was intense. Poured out the whole fucking bomber after 2 sips..... nasty.

    I just bought a bomber of red from Lakefront Brewing and I'm crossing my fingers....

  2. Yeah, it was definitely a bit odd. Not sure if it was tainted, but I can understand just plain not liking it.