It’s time again to review a brew from the Windy City. This particular beer is made by Half Acre and is called Ginger Twin. It’s an India-style red ale, which is not a style combination that I am familiar with but I always love trying new things and brewers that aren’t afraid to put them out there. Now we all know there are good gingers and bad gingers and I’m hoping this beer leans toward the former and not the latter. On a side note, I love what Half Acre posted on their blog when this beer first came out.
“Ginger Discount: *Anyone with God given red hair will be granted an 8% discount on Ginger Twin purchases. **Anyone with God given red hair and a Longshoremen’s beard will be granted a 10% discount on Ginger Twin purchases. ***Identical Twins will be granted a 15% discount on Ginger Twin Purchases ****Identical Twins with God given red hair will be granted a 25% discount on Ginger Twin purchases. *****Identical Twins with God Given red hair and Longshoremen’s beards will be granted a special treat (each) and 50% off additional Ginger Twin purchases. (The Ginger Discount only valid at the Half Acre Beer Emporium located at the Half Acre Brewery & World Headquarters. 4257 N. Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL)”
I mean, c’mon, how kick ass is that? Nothing like a brewery that shows a little personality. Let’s pour!
Aroma 10/12: The aroma is entirely that of a sturdy IPA, full of pine, grass, with lesser resin and grapefruit notes. There is a spicing that happens even behind that and ties everything together rather nicely. I am not able to detect any of the red malts through all the hops. Also, the aroma of this beer is only of a moderate intensity even with all those delicious scents inside.
Appearance 3/3: I love the look of this beer. The color is whimsically true to it’s name and emulates perfectly the ginger beards depicted on its label. The head is as aggressive as you pour it, showed superior retention, a light maize color, and left extreme lacing all over my glass. I’m looking forward to this being a sticky, delicious beer.
Flavor 18/20: Well, the malts certainly make their presence know in the initial sips of this beer. They barge in the door like a student late for class. They are the dry, biscuity, crisp malts that I love to see in a good pale ale, but not the caramel-like and/or lightly toasted malts that I expect to see in a good red ale. If anything it shows flashes of the light buttery flavor that can sometimes accompany a red ale, but I’m afraid that’s as close as it gets. Virtually no malt sweetness is present. The backbone of the beer brings out some of the brighter citrus from the aroma and can be downright sweet on the tip of the tongue. Hoppy herbal spiciness is present, but not overbearing and complements the resin nicely. All of this is overseen by a moderate bitter tinge. To get any sense of the sweet malts used in this brew, you must give it a wine taster’s slurp. This brings a super rich combination of resin and caramel rushing to your tastebuds and you’d swear you were sipping on some big ol’ DIPA! The finish is again biscuity and crisp, but features a nice bitter with it. It also shows off the body of this beer remarkably well.
Note: The caramel becomes more detectable as a general sweetness toward the bottom of the bottle. is there a real reason for this? Is it my imagination? Is my palate simply become acclimated to the hops and able to more easily detect other flavors? I find this odd since usually the malts are more present than hops at colder temperatures and as the beer warms, usually it is the hop aromas/flavors that open up.
Mouthfeel 5/5: This is nice and smooth in the mouth, a neat contrast from the crisp bitter flavors in this beer. The carbonation is just about perfect. It keeps the beer drinkable and refreshing in spite of the silky, bitter brew in which it resides.
Overall Impression 8/10: This is a very tasty beer that I would not hesitate to drink again, but it’s a stretch to call this a red ale, even an India-style red ale. Simply put, it lacks almost any of the sweetness that one can expect to encounter when drinking a red ale. Even if this is a beer that is not at its freshest, I would’ve expected the hops to deteriorate and not the malts! The sweetness in the malts only becomes easily detectable when the beer is slightly below room temperature. To its credit, this beer has a delicious, yet less-than-robust aroma and a mouthfeel that keeps you drinking. As an IPA, its pretty damn good!
Total 44/50: I’d not be afraid to give this brew a solid B on it’s report card. I’d also tell its parents at conferences that it could really be something if it just applied itself… to the style it intended to be. I’m sure that Half Acre with all their brewing prowess could quite easily squeeze some more sweet, malty goodness into this bottle and truly set it apart as a red. Heck, as it stands it’s one helluva IPA, so with some small tweaks to make it a true a red ale it would easily fall into my top 5, even top 3. After all, there’s really nothing to complain about. It’s flavorful, shows good aroma, insane lacing, and is surprisingly drinkable even with its smooth body and bitter flavors. I can easily and happily recommend it as an IPA. Those who love and respect the red ale style might be a tad disappointed by the lack of sweet malts. However, one can only be so disappointed when they’re looking for one thing and find an equally pleasing substitute. It reminds me of an Emerson quote:
“If we shall take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!