Garr's Red Jam Red Ale

A local brewery! Wait - this isn't local. But it is. First thing I noticed is that this can feels odd. Turns out, it is a plain black can with a sticker on top of it. The Tennessee brewery, Garr's, has entered into an agreement to have Straight to Ale brew and can this beer for them, so I assume two sets of beer experts have already sampled this beer and found it to be awesome. That's the kind of beer I want.

The beer is a kind of red copper-amber color. Look at the picture, as it is really hard to pin the shade down. The head is pretty good, with tiny bubbles that hang around for quite a while and leave a nice enough doily on top. The aroma is sweet like toffee and caramel. It smells pretty strong, too, and that seems unusual for this type of beer, but I'm game.

First sip is not what I would expect from a red ale. It is very malt-heavy with sweetness and grains mixed with nuts, wine, oak, and a bunch of other flavors that take the sweetness into a kind of dry bitterness that is likely the hops. It's freaking complicated, which is unlike most reds, so let's sort it out with a swig.

Tip-in is light carbonation tingle with sweet malt, wood, grain, and a kind of... what the hell is it? Sorghum? It's a very odd integrated taste. The middle is smooth and has a clear flavor of caramel, grain, and toffee. The middle is quite good... and then the finish comes. The finish is a mess of tart, bitter, sweet, nuts, oak, sorghum, toffee, and some other things I can't comb out. It's really not a nice taste to end with.

Bottom Line: Red ales are supposed to be mild enough to not be offensive even when you are a little off. This is more than a little.



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