Bitter Sisters' Knock Out Packs A Mean Punch.
Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!
This week, we sipped on Bitter Sisters Brewing's Knock Out.
Fast Facts on Bitter Sisters Brewing Knock Out.
Style: Irish Red Ale.
ABV: 8.2 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 85.
Color: Reddish copper.
Bitter Sisters is a family affair through and through. The brewery's website talks about the story of a dude making homebrew for his family. Sounds like a fun family! So the brewing thing turned in to a family sort of business, and now Bitter Sisters has been brewing for a couple of years now. Knock Out represents one of its four main offerings, and it does not disappoint. Let's get right on with it then.
Background on Irish Red Ale.
For a primer on the Irish Red Ale style, check out our review of Peticolas' Irish Goodbye. Red ales are known to be easy drinking sorts of pints. These beers are known to take on a sort of red color to them based on their grain bill. There is an emphasis on the grainy and malty, and sometimes caramel-y notes of the malts. Hop bitterness should be relatively low, too. While the style dictates lots of moderation in its traits, it does leave wiggle room for adaptation and imagination. And that is what's going on here with Knock Out.
Knock Out pours deep, reddish copper. On the off chance that you blind-ordered Knock Out, one look at this beauty tells you that you're heading in to the amber and copper territory. A moderate lacing hangs around for about half a beer, and a minute amount of off-white head remains throughout.
The first aroma note I sense is of rich toffee and malt. I'd guess and say that this beer is almost heading into a caramel-y, buttery territory, like a diacetyl sort of place. But fear not, a bit of diacetyl is A-OK in this style; it's not a deal-breaker. Another important note is that this beer, while high in IBU, is rather unassuming on the nose, hop-wise. There is, though, a certain tiny bit of “hot” something on the nose. But, again, it's not a deal-breaker. This beer is a slightly punched-up version of an Irish Red Ale, and the higher ABV is going to show itself through a few characteristics that may push the boundaries of what you think of as your typical Irish Red Ale.
The alcohol intensity carries through to the flavor (duh) — but, again, it's not a bad thing. It's a warming feeling that seems to balance out with the pronounced roast and toffee taste. I must be honest: I'm sort of at a loss for where all the hop bitterness is in this beer. I mean, I do sense some pronounced bitterness, but it has a perfect balance. Neither the sweetness nor the hop bitterness takes over.
Knock Out has a moderate level of carbonation. There's a smoothness, a slickness on the tongue that is quite enjoyable. The finish isn't quite as dry as I'd like it to be for an Irish Red, but there are also not a lot of Irish Reds out there with an elevated, 8.2 percent ABV. The warming sensation of this beer accompanies the malt bill nicely, leaving a velvety coating on my tongue, and leaving me ready for another sip. If it weren't for the residual sweetness telling my brain to slow down, I'd probably end up in a bad way sooner than I'd like.
I'm a fan of this beer. But I don't think I want to sit here and drink this beer all night, because I'd be in trouble fairly quickly. Nonetheless, this is a great option for when you want to drink a couple of solid, flavor-forward, malt-based beers. To only call this beer an Irish Red Ale might be a mistake on my part, but we're going to run it this way just the same. There are some examples out there of Export Irish Red Ales. In this case, export means that the ABV is slightly elevated. And I don't see a lot of brewers out there labeling a beer as an Imperial Irish Red Ale, so we need to hold off on the Imperial thing. But, yeah, I get it. This is an Irish Red Ale that's above 8 percent ABV.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give Bitter Sisters Brewing's Knock Out a 7.5.
What's happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, March 26. Local Brews, Local Grooves at House of Blues.
• Saturday, March 26. Egg-Stravaganza at Texas Ale Project.
• Saturday, March 26. Easter Tour and Egg Hunt at Franconia.
• Sunday, March 27. Three-Year Anniversary at Martin House.
• Wednesday, March 30. Hypnotic Donuts Food and Beer Pairing at Lone Star Taps and Caps (Denton).
• Friday, April 1-2. Big Texas Beer Fest.
• Saturday, April 2. Beer Sensory Training at Texas Brewing, Inc.
• Saturday, April 2. Burgers, Brews and Blues at Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork.
• Sunday, May, 15. Brew Riot at Bishop Arts.
Previous On Tap Reviews:
• Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community's Legion: 10.
• Deep Ellum's Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Lost Epic: 9.5.
• Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
• Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• On Rotation's Jalapeno Saison: 9.
• Woodcreek's Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
• Lakewood's Wild Manimal: 9.
• Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
• Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
• Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
• Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Peticolas' Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum's Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
• Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Oak Highlands' Golden Mustache: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Crackin' Up: 8.
• Deep Ellum's Play Date: 8.
• Rahr & Sons Brewing Company's 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
• Bitter Sisters' Belgian Tripel: 8.
• Noble Rey's SteamPunk: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Citra On Top: 8.
• Bitter Sisters' Hissy Fit: 8.
• BrainDead's Gritz: 8.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
• Cedar Creek's Fisticuffs: 8.
• Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
• Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
• Martin House's Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
• Revolver's Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
• Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
• Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
• Lakewood's Holiday Bonus: 8.
• Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
• Four Corners' Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
• Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
• On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
• True Vine's Unicorn's Revenge: 7.5.
• Deep Ellum's Hop Seeker: 7.5.
• Four Corners' El Super Bee: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Hopochondria: 7.5.
• Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
• Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
• Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
• BrainDead's I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
• Martin House's Turtle Power: 7.
• Collective's Petite Golden Sour: 7.
• Shannon's Chocolate Stout: 7.
• BrainDead's Red Ale: 7.
• Community's Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
• Bearded Eel's Purple Unicorn: 7.
• Shannon Brewing Company's Irish Red: 7.
• Texas Ale Project's Somethin' Shady: 7.
• Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
• Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
• Martin House Brewing Company's Cellarman's Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
• Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
• 903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
• 903 Brewers' Sugar On Top: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
• Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
• Revolver's High Brass: 7.
• Community's Pale Ale: 7.
• Oak Highlands' Chump Change: 7.
• Martin House's River House: 7.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
• Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
• Audacity's Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
• Collective Brewing Project's Mom Azacca: 6.5.
• Four Corners' La Lechuza: 6.5.
• Revolver's Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
• 903 Brewers' Trot Line: 6.5.
• Peticolas' Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Nine Bands' Cactus Cat: 6.
• Martin House's Kafkaesque: 6.
• Tupps' Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Tweedleyum: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Off With Your Red: 6.
• Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
• Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
• Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
• Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
• 903 Brewers' The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
• Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort: 5.
• Four Bullets' Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
• Four Corners Heart O' Texas: 4.
• Audacity's Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company's IPA: 4.
• Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
• Twin Peaks' Dirty Blonde: 3.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• Miller Lite: 1.