UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012
Seasonal autumn beers usually fall into two categories: Octoberfest
beers (or at least those based on the style) and [nut] brown ales.
Usually a beer in the former style will incorporate that into its name,
but beers of the latter style often try to have catchy or gimmicky
names, such as Red Hook Late Harvest Autumn Ale. Clearly, this is an
attempt at making a weak brown ale cheap enough to sell on the mass
market while also appealing to casual and serious drinkers alike.
However, I just wasn’t sold.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
beer poured surprisingly rough, but has a beautiful shade of
copper/burnt umber, clear complexion. Only a minor amount of carbonation
was noticeable. The head was a small, off-white and soapy which didn’t
last long, but did leave quite a lot of lacing on the glass,
surprisingly. The smell was faint and unremarkable for the most part
with only weak traces of malt and a tiny amount of roasty qualities
English-style brown ale is one of
my favorite types of beer, but when an American brewer attempts to turn
the style into a limited seasonal it seems the result is more often
miss than hit. Late Harvest Autumn Ale definitely has all the usual
signs of a brown ale, but they are very subtle and would be virtually
unnoticeable to the casual drinker. For a more experience drinker, I was
wondering why the so-called roasty, nutty qualities were so weak.
Caramel malts are used to brew this beer, but they were equally weak.
best way to describe the taste of this beer would be to take just a
good brown ale and water it down. Yes, it does retain the basic elements
of this niche style (which most beer drinkers really appreciate and
enjoy), but without the strength of a true craft beer.
the beer’s taste is so mild, it really doesn’t surprise me Late Harvest
Autumn Ale has such a soft mouthfeel and finishes so smooth. Since this
former micro brewery is now owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch, it
doesn’t surprise me a pseudo craft ale such as this might be watery in
order to make it more drinker-friendly.
beer is going to have a taste like this (i.e. very mild), why have such a
heavy body? At 5.9% ABV and 190 calories per bottle, Late Harvest
Autumn Ale is quite a heavy body. Yet it seems to be marketed towards a
drinker looking for something tasty for session drinking. The three
bottles I drank more than filled me up. They definitely satisfied my
body, but not my palate.
American macro breweries attempt to cash in on seasonals or niche
brewing styles the result, more often than not, is a let down. Red Hook
Late Harvest Autumn Ale comes really close to being what it’s trying to
be, but this discerning drinker just wasn’t buying it.