Happy Hour Special: Friday Beer Review (Back to the Sampler Edition!)

shortstraw

Happy Friday everyone.  Welcome back to the Blue Moon Fall Sampler series.  I hope everyone went out and bought a bottle or five of Southern Tier’s Iniquity.  Perhaps you can drink it while you read this next review.

Now, where were we?  Ah yes.  Coming off a strong comeback with the Harvest Pumpkin Ale, this Blue Moon Fall Sampler is currently sitting at 50% tastiness rating.  I have high hopes though.  I still have the traditional Belgian style ale, which I’m saving for last, a different Belgian Style ale, and today’s contender.  And I’m hoping that this next beer is as tasty as its name is long: Blue Moon’s Short Straw Farmhouse Red Ale.  I’m excited.  Let’s go drink.

So, right on the bottle, I’m told that this beer is part of Blue Moon’s Expressionist Collection.  I have no idea what that means.  Maybe I should be drinking this while suspended in a plastic box in my front yard.  Maybe  I should paint a picture of myself drinking this beer, in the style of The Scream.  Whatever it means, the bottle then goes on to say “This beer is an intriguing interpretation of a Farmhouse ale, blended with a Flander’s Red, with hints of white pepper and a tart finish.”  I’ve never had a Flander’s Red, but it definitely sounds interesting, so why not?

Starting off with the initial bottle smell, I’m greeted by the classic malt and hoppy beer aromas that immediately jump out of the way for a deep, tangy fruitiness, like a fog parting to reveal a hidden forest wonderland.  After this arrival, malts and sugars linger at the sides, but that main, fruit scent keeps slipping away, almost like it wants me to chase after it.  Fine, Red, I’ll play your game!

The first bottle taste is a slightly sour, earthy experience that pulls straight down from the initial aromas.  Tangy notes form at the back of the throat, followed by some heat a few moments later as the white pepper makes an appearance.  It’s a very nice transition from flavor to flavor that makes me want to keep drinking.  These flavors combine to form both a classic beery taste, while rocking a shandy vibe at the same time.  It’s not sweet like a cider or a lambic, but it has the tang of a lambic, and the crispness of a cider.  This is a very complex, layered beer.

Its aftertaste from the bottle is a nice wheaty-ness that mingles with the tartness and fruity notes, as well as the heat of the pepper, to just keep the flavor going even after you’re done drinking.  At this point, I couldn’t wait to get it into a glass to open everything up.

However, upon pouring into a snifter, the aromas seem to become shy.  The only note I can distinguish is a light tartness supported by some soft floral notes.  No hints of pepper, or the malt n’ hop bedrock that initially supported the scents.  I hope this is not an indication of ill tides…

Thankfully, once I taste the poured version, I find the aromas.  They went down into the beer, as if to buff up the flavors.  Every note is at least twice as potent as it was in the bottle, and this is a big plus.  The pepper spice has a bit more bite to it.  The tang is crispier, especially on the back of the tongue.  And those malts come back and hold everything in place.  The only thing missing are hops, but it’s not a big loss, as their bitterness would have battled with the tart n’ tang that I’m loving.  All of this flavor carries on to the aftertaste, which lasts twice as long as it did in the bottle.  The tartness and the pepper diminish into classic, mellow, malty flavors.  Basically like the cooldown lap after a mile run.  This beer doesn’t want you to pull a hammy.

Another gem within this beer isn’t even something you can taste.  Once poured, its color is a ruby-red/nut-brown mixture with an off white head that fades quickly. But, hold your glass up to the light, and let its true colors beam down on your face.  It’s like a stained glass window, that’s full of beer.  Awesome.

This beer pretty much eradicates the dark mark that the Caramel Apple fiasco left on the Sampler as a whole.  The flavors are smooth, interesting, and refreshing, and make you want to keep drinking in order to discover its true identity.  .  You can easily sip or chug this liquid tastiness; it’s just as delicious  either way.  Its aftertastes, both in the bottle and from a glass, prolong the flavors and bring great milage to this already wonderful beer.  And, on top of everything else, it looks awesome, with a rich, red-brown body that bursts into a glowing crimson when the light hits it just right.  It’s a great beer overall, with unique qualities that may turn some people away.  But, if you enjoy complex flavors and changing layers, Blue Moon’s Short Straw Farmhouse Red Ale is wonderful, earning a solid A-.

Grading:

Taste: 4.5/5

Drinkability: 4.5/5

Price: 4/5

Lasting Strength: 4.5/5

Looks: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5 A-

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