We have had a unseasonably mild summer for Virginia standards this year. Sure we pushed 100 several times, but August is usually your 90/90 month with temperature and humidity, and we have seen not a lick of it. And as we are now a few short days away from the end of summer, it’s time to start refining our palates into some fall beer.
Stop. I know what you are thinking. He’s about to set up a pumpkin beer review. Nay, I will not. There will be plenty of time for that later. Instead I look at this time as the weather starts to cool down as a transitional beer area. And over the years I have found red ales perfect in these situations. Most are not too heavy and not very bitter, so they can be enjoyed while the temperature is still high, but malty enough to get you warmed up for the cooler inside beers the coming months will encourage. One such red ale is made just across the river from me, and it’s a solid choice for this time of year.
Red Nun, O’Connor Brewing Co. (Norfolk, VA)
Red Ale, ABV: 5.5%, IBU:35
Presentation: Tap Pour into Pint Glass
Appearance: Red (shocking, I know) with minimal whitish head dissipating quickly to small peaks.
Smell: Light malty caramel aroma, very little citrus. Not overly complex.
Taste: Pretty close to what a red ale should taste like. You get a decent sugary/’sweetroll’ up front with a clean light citrus rind back. There is not a tremendous amount of linger to this beer with only a small breadiness left.
ABV/IBU Feel: As we said above, this is a very clean beer through and through. The 5.5% ABV is at the top of the Red Ales, but that’s more of a misnomer, as Red Ales are generally lower anyways (4-5.5%). And while there is a slight hoppiness to it, it is not overpowering.
Overall: Red Ales are the way to go right now if you don’t want to succumb to heavier Ambers, Nut Browns, or Pumpkins. Sure there will be plenty of time for all those, but let’s give reds a chance now. I like this offering from O’Connor and can tell why it is a year round selection. They have found a good balance in this red as far as flavor is concerned, but would have like the notes to be a little more pronounced. You could start getting in to red meat with this, as ambers and steaks go hand in hand, but a strong seasoned chicken or rubbed fish would work well with this beer.