I've talked to a lot of craft beer drinkers with whom I share a curious tendency. When a brewery gets "too big" we tend to turn up our nose and figure there's no more "craft" to the craft brewing. I've heard this a lot about Sam Adams. Same with Widmer once they were bought out by Anheuser Busch. "Bought out" really isn't a correct description, but that's how many beer drinkers think about it. Redhook merged with Widmer a couple of years back. For some reason, when the locals do well, we celebrate, but if they get too big, we rebel. I recently overheard a group of knowledgeable beer drinkers talking beer around pints at the Rhino in Missoula. One of them said he was embarrassed to admit he'd picked some Sam Adams Imperial Stout over at Worden's Market. Trust me, I'm not chastising. I'm just articulating what I know to be a common feeling. It is a feeling I have to fight in my own world of beer exploration.
The reality is, the big boys make some great beer. Sam Adams Octoberfest is one of my fall favorites. Their chocolate bock is a really fun, interesting beer. For the very first post of this blog, I described one of my all time favorites, Redhook's Double Black Stout. Why mention all of this? Because it all went through my head when I spotted Redhook's newest offering in a local grocery store today: Mud Slinger Spring Ale.
When you live in Montana, seeing a "spring ale" show up in mid-January is a bit of a cruel tease. Spring is a long way away. I decided to grab a six-pack because Mudslinger Spring Ale is, somewhat surprisingly, a nut brown ale, one of my favorite styles. It's apparently a re-branding of what Redhook previously called, rather simply, nut brown ale. Names aside, this is a very drinkable beer. Redhook calls it a typical American brown ale style and uses six different malts. It pours a very pleasing clear reddish brown with a slightly off white head. The aroma is strong malt which carries through with the taste as well. There's a good amount of nuttiness to this beer and good caramel levels. Hops are not featured, but there's enough of them to make this a balanced beer. It is smooth and goes down very easily. I'd call it medium bodied. Alcohol is 5.8% abv. It may be beer from the big boys, but I'll be drinking more of it.
Name: Mud Slinger Spring Ale
Brewery: Redhook, Woodinville, WA.
Style: American Brown Ale.
Color: Clear reddish brown.
Packaging: 12 oz bottle.
Stats: 5.8% abv, 30 IBUs.
Bought: Local grocery, Missoula, MT.
Ruling: Three and a half out of Five Hops. Very good, easy drinking, nutty brown ale.