Tasting Notes: Redd’s Apple Ale

Translation: "This is not an apple."
Translation: “This is not an apple.”

I recently heard about a new, um, beer called Redd’s Apple Ale from Redd’s Brewing Company in Albany, Georgia. Now, I had never heard of Redd’s, and first thought it might be an interesting new microbrewery for the state of Georgia. But it turns out, Redd’s is a brand being launched by MillerCoors. OK, nothing wrong with that. They don’t especially want you to know that. But nothing wrong with that. It is brewed at the MillerCoors facility in Albany, so – for you Georgia beer fans –  it does have that going for it.

MillerCoors was nice enough to send me a few bottles to try, and right after I received them,  I also started seeing Redd’s pop up in gas stations and grocery stores in Georgia and Alabama. Redd’s is also available in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana,  Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Maine (how did Maine slip in to this list, does lobster pair exceptionally well with apple ale???).

Just to be clear, this is an ale. Flavored with apple flavor. Colored with caramel coloring. It is not a hard cider (fermented apple juice). Now, you might ask, “why bother making an apple-flavored beer when you can brew a good cider from apples?” And I might answer, well, MillerCoors probably knows a lot more about turning grains into beer than they do about turning apples into cider. And that’s probably true, but it’s also true that they not too long ago snapped up Crispin Cider, who definitely knows a thing or three about turning apples into something liquid, delicious and mildly intoxicating (try their “artisanal reserves” if you can find them – in fact, maybe I’ll do some tasting notes on those soon).

Anyway, my intent is to share what I thought about the experience of drinking a Redd’s Apple Ale, regardless of corporate owner, regardless of state of origin, regardless of whether it’s an apple (cider) or an orange (ale… wait, that didn’t quite work…). As I said, anyway…

Redd’s Apple Ale
“Ale with natural apple flavor and caramel color”
5% alcohol by volume
Tasting Date: October 5, 2012

Redd’s Apple Ale is a lovely, moderately deep gold in color (in fact, it is downright caramel-y looking!). It pours with a nice fizz, but no head whatsoever, reinforcing that this is not going to be a typical ale.

On the nose, Redd’s doesn’t give too much, with a bare hint of green apple over dusty malt. Poured into a glass, the carbonation is lively, and it hits the tongue with a pleasantly smooth, bubbly fizz.

Overall, this comes across a lot like an easy-drinking version of a hard cider, not harsh or bitter at all. It’s very crisp and green appley, with an undertone of malt that comes on a bit stronger through the finish. Again, nothing particularly ale-like about this.

Redd’s goes down easy, and is definitely appealing at first, but manages to quickly become boring. I was nodding my head in OK-this-is-not-bad appreciation with the first few sips, but then realized I was not at all eager for more – not for any negatives present, but rather for lack of any sort of ongoing interest. While the apple flavor is the dominant note here, it really is that – apple flavor – rather than the apple characteristics that can evolve into something more in a good hard cider.

Verdict? Fair* – this is easy drinking, and offers a nice approximation of a hard cider – but why buy an apple ale when you can go for a real apple cider?


* Thirsty South Rating Scale:

Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck

Full Disclosure: this bottle was provided as a tasting sample