A: The beer rating sheets from our first Monthly Beer Club tasting, where we drank Red Ales till we were… red in the face?

Our first meetup was a grand success with only a few instances of confusion, lots of good friends, and varying amounts of beer-tasting experience.

We made up rating/note sheets for people to use, and my co-worker (who happens to be a homebrewer) brought some books for our drinkers to peruse.

One in particular, Tasting Beer, proved quite useful and entrancing to our friends as they explored the vocabulary and descriptions of the beer world. This was by no means a strict or formal tasting, but everyone really embraced the beer-centric nature of the evening and I think we all learned from it.

BUT… I’m sure what we all want to know is what the results were. My answer? Mixed. Mixed like a cocktail.

We started with Red Ales, which, as we embarked on our respective shopping trips, we discovered can be hard to come by. This resulted in an “executive decision” to expand the category to include both Amber Ales and Copper Ales. Shockingly though, we had pretty much all reds at the tasting… only one Amber and then a few brews that crossed genres… as microbreweries do.

1st Place: the Outta Kilter Wee Heavy Scotch-Style Red Ale by Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio. [ed note: I did not get a chance to taste this one as the one bottle we had was dry as a bone by the time I got to it…, ahh the perils of hosting, it IS on my shopping list]

2nd Place: the Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California. [ed note: This is also what I featured in my Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Beer Bread, served with goat cheese… yum!]

Least favorites were a three-way tie:
Red MacGregor Ruby Ale by Orkney Brewery in Scotland
Shark Attack Double Red Ale by Port Brewing in San Marcos, CA
Rare Vos Belgian Amber Ale by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY
[ed note: each of these was ALSO at least one person’s favorite as well, so I guess we’ll all have to agree to disagree, huh?]

So… mixed reviews. The overall winner was actually a wee-heavy Scottish style Red Ale, but it was also the most distinct favorite with rave reviews, also several of the beers (including the second place, one of the “least favorites,” and others that didn’t rank) were included on the BeerAdvocate top 50 for their style.

Here’s what we tasted:
Abby’s Ale (a homebrew)
Brewery Ommegang Rare Vos (Belgian-style Amber Ale)
George Killians Irish Red (lager)
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial Red
Hoppin’ Frog Outta Kilter Wee Heavy Scotch-Style Red Ale
Ithaca CascaZilla Red Ale
Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale
Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest
Murphy’s Red Ale
Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red Ale
Red MacGregor Ruby Ale
Samuel Adams Irish Red

Further info for any curious tasters out there:

Stay tuned next month for our tasting of Octoberfests and Harvest-styles… and post or email your thoughts and recommendations for Reds, Octoberfests, and tasting clubs!

Special thanks to: curious minds, fantastic friends (especially Sandy and Katryn who hyped it up online and Henry who got us going), and Craig (a super co-conspirator).

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