Saranac Red IPA

Hailing from the Empire State, this oddly named beer is a red IPA. I can't say I know the difference between a red and an amber IPA. I suspect it's just a preference of terms, but there could be some origin differentiation, as well.

The head is a bunch of sticky bubbles that cling to the sides with an impressive willpower for being just a bunch of bubbles. It's a pretty hazy red ale that has more brown in it than I would have expected. It's so hazy that there are tiny bits floating in the beer. The implication is a bit of bottle conditioning, but I don't think we're looking at enough sediment to justify that assumption. The aroma is kind of flat with a bit of hops and something smokey in there.

First sip is a complex one. It starts off kind of watery, but it blossoms right in the middle with a kind of smokey caramel with the sweetness of the hops really taking hold. Then, very quickly, the sweetness is shoved right out of the mouth with the bitterness of the hops. There are a lot more hops in here than I would typically expect to find in a red or amber ale.

A bigger swig finds a more complex beverage then before. Right in the middle, there is a bitter, hoppy taste that is well balanced and quite entertaining. the tip-in is now lemon with caramel in its smokiness. Then, a sourness - not bitterness - takes hold for the finish. It's unexpected and unwelcome. What follows is hard to describe - it gets a bit stodgy and stiff with a kind of nutty taste, and that blends obscenely with the sourness in an equally unwelcome way.

All told, it's a good effort from someone who clearly knew what they were doing. I think they just got bored with beer the way it was, and they decided to branch out. I can respect that, but this isn't their best effort.

2/5

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