Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mendocino Brewing Co.: Red Tail Ale

This post has been a long time coming. Red Tail has been a consistent favorite of mine for several years now. For a long time I claimed it was my favorite beer period, and while I'm not sure what my "all time favorite" is at the moment, Red Tail is certainly still in the running.

Red Tail is an amber ale, but one that definitely tends toward the lighter and hoppier side of the genre. It has a citrusy flavor that is strongly suggestive of Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, and in fact, when I first had this brew way back in the day, I mistook it for a pale. You could almost describe this beer as an amber-pale hybrid, given how strongly hopped the brew is and how mild the malt flavors are. But while Red Tail is substantially lighter than your typical amber, it has a distinctive toasted barley flavor that places it firmly within the limits of the amber genre. The beer also boasts a light body, plenty of carbonation, and a dry finish, which add up to make it quite refreshing and very drinkable.

There's no special subtle flavor that makes Red Tail such a hit in my book. Rather, Red Tail's success comes from its ability to balance bold citrusy hops against a lightly toasted malt flavor in a way that brings out both flavors. It is the kind of simple but classic combination that is immediately enjoyable but never gets old. If I haven't imposed this one on you before, do yourself a favor, and grab a six pack for yourself.

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