For this week's random historical justification to try a beer, you get to learn that Sacramento became California's first incorporated city 160 years ago this Saturday. Granted, the state's capitol is six hours north from El Monte, birthplace of this week's beer, but it's the best we could find. You'll deal.
We'd never seen any of ReaperAle Brewing Co.'s offerings before we noticed the brewery's Redemption Red Ale at Spec's and figured it deserved a shot.
The packaging (and the Web site, yikes) are pretty goth, and we were never into that. But we kept an open mind when sampling this offering, which weighed in at 6.2 percent alcohol by volume.
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At first glance, the beer felt like an IPA, not a red ale. There was a lot of bite, plenty of hops, and a tinge of burnt malt, oddly. That surprised us. We tend to go for reds when we're in the mood for something mellow and smooth but with a little more hop character.
We're not going to say this brew was bad or that it lacked character, because neither of those are true. It finished with some complexity: a hint of caramel, a little Bavarian flavor, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Still, we went through 22 ounces wondering when the "red ale" was going to show up, and were stood up. Character, sure, no argument there. But mellow, smooth, vaguely malty? Certainly not.
In short, if you're after an IPA-red hybrid, this is your ticket. You can pick up a 22-ounce bottle at Spec's for $5.25.