There seem to be a lot of red beers around at the moment. A Saturday a couple of weeks ago Sheffield was awash with them.
First up Colorado Red, a brand-spanking new collaboration by Thornbridge and Odell. No doubt about it this is a gorgeous brew, but force-fed through a tight sparkler at the Sheffield Tap left it losing some of its, erm, sparkle. I reckon this would be a great beer bottled or on keg. At least on cask it could do without having the life squeezed out of it before it hit the glass.
A similar fate befell Hardknott's Infra Red. Weighing in at a hefty 6.2% abv this is a beer the brewer(y) describes as serious. The word serious conjures up images of Bono and Sting or Noel Edmonds on Brasseye - enough to make me gag - but not so this ale. It certainly deserves some respect, and being pulverised through the sparkler at the Hillsborough Hotel seemed disrespectful to me; if the brewer used a load of hops in this beer (and he did) they deserve to be tasted.
I'd like to try the bottled version but chances of that are slim, there aren't many around.
The BrewDog Alpha Dog's dry-hopping made it the tastiest and most fragrant red beer of the day. If you're familiar with 5am Saint then you'll have some idea of Alpha Dog, it's basically a lower abv version of Saint. As far as I can recall this is a beer they brew for export to Norway so I was surprised to see it in the Fat Cat.
That was Sheffield. Fast forward to Peterborough beer festival and Colorado Red straight from the cask. A more balanced experience with a graininess to the malt and a real bite from the hops. This was how I imagined it to taste and it brought back memories of one of my all time favourite red beers Red Squall by Newby Wyke.
If you see any of these beers on your travels I recommend them all. If you're feeling brave or want to irritate the bar person maybe you'll ask them to remove the sparkler. If not just do as I did and imagine how much better they are without.