Friday, February 27, 2015

Red Ales — Payette Brewing Co. vs. Ballast Point Brewing Co.

Payette Brewing Co.
Slaughter House
(India Style Red Ale)
ABV 7.5%

Ballast Point Brewing Co. 
Tongue Buckler
(Imperial Red Ale)   
ABV 10% 

This time we delve into the strange and unpredictable world of "red ales." We've always had a soft spot for a good, hoppy red ale. Unfortunately we've also run into our share of malty, roasty red ales that are essential just an amber ale with a different name. I chose these specifically because, based on their labels, they promised to deliver some attempt at hoppiness. It's a battle of Boise, Idaho vs. San Diego, California. Let's get it on! 

Beer #1 (Ballast Point Tongue Buckler) was an attractive reddish brown in the glass. The nose had plenty of hop character leaning toward piney, herbal & vegetal. It had a full body with lots of resiny hop notes to go along with a sweet, burnt caramel maltiness. It was moderate to heavy in bitterness and had an intense finish of burnt caramel. 

Beer #2 (Payette Slaughter House) was the exact same color as Beer #1 but had a bit more clarity. The aroma was reminiscent of fabric softener, soap and pine. It had a thinner body than Beer #1 with lots of floral notes and a mild sweetness. The finish was short-lived with a mild to moderate bitterness and a continuation of the floral character and some underlying grain notes.

This one had us flip flopping a bit. At first we were drawn to the boldness of the Tongue Buckler, but eventually its aggressiveness just wore us out and we both chose the Slaughter House as the winner. This is not surprising as the Tongue Buckler was brewed in the "imperial" style, which nowadays means stuff as much malt and hops into the beer as humanly possible. Ballast Point has built its reputation on boldly hopped beers and this is no exception. Our biggest complaint was in the finish which was too bitter for our tastes and even had some of that "ashmouth" bitterness that we've detected in extremely hoppy beers in the past.

The Slaughter House lived up to a beer touting itself as an "India Style Red Ale," and resulted in a successful union between an amber ale and an India pale ale — nice and malty with a decent hop kick. Our only complaint was with the nose, which definitely had elements of artificially scented cleaning products. Aside from that, though, it was a beer worth stowing in your backpack for your next recreational endeavor. Heck, take two, you deserve it.

Unanimous decision: Payette Brewing Slaughter House

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