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So … I may be a few steps behind when it comes to the seasonal beers released by Lagunitas this year. BUT – better late than never, right? Lagunitas released its 2008 Imperial Red Ale late this past summer. Its running streak ended in October. (And with most seasonal beers, its availability lasts longer than its deadline).

I love Lagunitas. I particularly like the Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale. With an IBU of 84 and an ABV of 7.6%, the Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale excites me tremendously. I think we shall taste it … what do you think?

goodbye-alex-lagunitas-red-080

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale (Limited Release):

ABV: 7.6%
IBU: 84.20

Text on bottle: “This special Ale is, in reality, a reconstructed exhumation of the very first ale that we ever brewed way, way, back in 1993. Brewed with a big head, a muscular malty thorax, a silky texture & all strung together with a hoppy sweet nerve sack… yum.”

goodbye-alex-lagunitas-red-086THE WENCH’S TASTING NOTES

APPEARANCE: Dark brownish crimson RED. Super cloudy. THICK off-white head that dissipates very quickly.

AROMA: The first whiff is heavy with hops – lots of pine notes as well as grass, citrus & flowers. As the head disappears, so does the hops aroma – giving way to a rich, sweet and malty aroma with hints of toasted oak, brown sugar and butterscotch.

TASTE: Hello hops, nice to meet you. The flavor of hops is citrusy and floral in the beginning and very bitter and astringent in the finish – almost like pine sap. Being a major fan of hops, I ABSOLUTELY ADORE the taste of this beer. There are some nice hints of malt that just barely help to reduce the power of the hops. Great acidity!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-bodied, excellent carbonation. Almost no alcohol burn.

DRINKABILITY: Besides being ridiculously hoppy, this beer is really well balanced!

OVERALL: I really really really like this ale! SUPER BIG PROPS go out to Lagunitas on this one! (BE AWARE: The Wench is a major hophead and is slightly biased towards ales with really high IBUs). I am very sad that Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale is only a limited release. I will definitely be picking up lots more of it while it is still available!

CHEERS!!!!

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Maybe I should change my name to The Belgian Beer Wench, since these days I seem to be obsessed with the ales of Belgium. Not only have I been enjoying drinking many different Belgian beers lately, but I have also have been enjoying reading Michael Jackson’s “GREAT BEERS OF BELGIUM.” (A wonderful friend of mine and amazing human being gave me this book for my birthday).

Although I usually prefer the beers from Belgian, there are many decent (and some pretty extraordinary) Belgian-style ales being brewed by American craft brewers. My curiosity is always peaked when a craft brewer creates a specialty or seasonal Belgian-style ale. Especially when said creation comes from one of my favorite breweries and DEFINITELY when the beer is accompanied by extremely attractive and seductive marketing.

The brewery in this case is Lagunitas Brewing Company – located in Petaluma, CA. The beer is a Belgian-style Abby Tripel Ale named “We’re Only In It For The Money.” I must confess that I am a few months late jumping on the bandwagon for this beer. Lagunitas released it this summer, but I have not had an opportunity to taste it until now.

“We’re Only In It For The Money” was brewed in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the release of Frank Zappa’s album of the same name. This is the fourth beer in the Frank Zappa series (each beer in the series pays tribute to one of Zappa’s albums).

Zappa’s experimental rock album entitled “We’re Only In It For The Money” comes with a pretty unique story. Zappa released this album in response to the Beatle’s album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, which offended Zappa when it was touted as the first concept album. Zappa, who already had released two (which Paul McCartney later admitted had influenced Sgt Pepper) felt compelled to create a satirical album that parodied the Sgt. Pepper/Beatle craze and “flower power” fad.

According to Wikipedia, the album “bridged styles as diverse as doo-wop and avant-garde sound collage, and peaked at #30 on North America’s Billboard Music Charts pop albums chart. The album satirizes many aspects of 1960s culture, lampooning the hippies, the conservative establishment, and everything in between.”

Not exactly sure why Lagunitas chose a Abby Tripel to celebrate this album … but we will trust their decision, regardless. Now … on to the tasting!

LAGUNITAS “WE’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY”

Style: Belgian-style Abbey Tripel Ale

ABV: 8.2%

Appearance: Orange amber color. Super cloudy with lots of sediment that is small and evenly distributed. Thick , off-white head that disapates almost immediately and leaves almost no lacing.

Aroma: Very sweet aroma. Belgian yeast. Floral hops. Fruity nose – typical banana with a hint of citrus (orange peel to be specific). Detect alcohol slightly on the aroma. Mild spice, super doughy. Cloves, naturally.

Taste: VERY sweet and fruity at the onset. Ridiculously malty, lots of caramelized sugars, super doughy. The sweetness lasts for a while and eventually yields a mild bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Carbonation is pretty decent in the onset, but dissipates with time. As the beer sits and loses carbonation, the ale becomes a bit “syrupy.” Alcohol is pretty apparent, but not too offensive.

Drinkability: For an American Tripel Ale, this beer is fairly decent. Although I did not do a side-by-side tasting with any of the Belgian Trappists or Abby Tripel Ales, I can say with complete confidence that Lagunitas falls short in comparison. All in all, though, it is a pretty solid beer. A little on the sweet side, which I do not mind on occasion – but not all the time. This is a beer that I would drink again, but probably not a beer I could drink frequently (and a lot of in one sitting).

And once again … let your own palate be your guide. To each his own. Cheers!

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