Hale’s Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 9.0%
Despite the brewery’s best efforts, many people still haven’t noticed that Hale’s Ales has been brewing some very non-English-style Ales over the past several years. In particular, they’ve been doing a rotating series of barrel-aged beers that has been quite impressive. Their barrel-aged Wee Heavy got our top rating in a tasting panel at the Brewing News a couple of years ago, and there have been several other impressive offerings. Next up in the series is an Imperial Red Ale that was aged in Rye Whiskey barrels for nine months. Sound okay to you? Sure does to me.
A caramel sweetness mixes with bourbon and citrus hops in an aroma that comes through loud and clear; it is beautiful. Flavor is a rich base of moderately sweet caramel malt with layers of dark fruit (dates), berries, resinous citrus hops, and a moderate amount of barrel/bourbon. Even after nine months of aging, there is still a very solid bitterness. Just a bit of alcohol warming is a plus here.
Overall, this beer kicks ass. Everything comes together really nicely in a complex, but very enjoyable, beer. The barrel character is a big component of the beer, but by no means does it overwhelm. I’m not sure one way or the other, but I’d guess they blended some base beer back in to balance out the barrel flavors. This could easily pass as a hoppy barrel-aged barleywine. Very nicely done.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Booyas
Commercial Description/Press Release:
Owing to its very complex and rich malt structure and nine months spent aging in Rye Whiskey barrels, Barrel Aged Imperial Red is big & bold — a limited release, small production beer treat, not to be missed!
9.0% ABV 70 IBUs
Malts: 2-Row Pale ~ Crystal ~ Special B ~ Rye ~ Carafa III
Hops: Apollo ~ Centennial, Amarillo, & Calypso
Original Gravity: 22.5° Plato
In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC regulations, this review was of a sample bottle received from the brewery.