We'll Tout BrainDead Red Until We're Blue In The Face.
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 BrainDead Brewing Company's Red Ale.
Fast Facts on BrainDead Brewing Company's Red Ale.
Style: India Red Ale.
ABV: 6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 70.
Color: Deep Amber.
Here, we continue our look at BrainDead Brewing Company's year-round beer offerings. Last month, we reviewed Gritz, BrainDead's “pre-Prohibition”-style Cream Ale, during the official release of the brewpub's inaugural line of house-made brews. We were impressed.
With similar anticipation this week, we take a look at Deep Ellum's sole dedicated brewpub's India Red Ale. The “IRA,” as it's known in some parts, marries a ruby red color and the rich body of an ale with the hop complexity and bitter flavors of an IPA. It's a harmonious union from the sound of it, and yet this style is still pretty new in the craft beer world. Although the India Red Ale, an IPA hybrid, is not yet a recognized style by the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program), there are some strong commercial examples available such as the Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale.
Today, we see if BrainDead Brewing Company's approach to the rare India Red Ale is the perfect balance of malt and hops.
Background on India Red Ale.
For the purpose of this exercise, we'll consider BrainDead Red a hybrid to be judged as a “specialty” beer, the BJCP catch-all category. Beers included in this category represent “American-style interpretations of European styles (e.g., hoppier, stronger, or ale versions of lagers) or other variants of traditional styles.” As long as the resulting beer tastes good and showcases the unusual approach or ingredients, the brewer is free to do what he or she wants. For another overview on specialty beers, be sure to check out our review of Brunch Money or Martin House's Salsa Verde.
BrainDead Red pours a hazy deep amber, bordering on reddish-brown to copper in color, with a big, billowy, uneven tan head. The head has great retention, fading slowly to give way to some nice sticky lacing.
With this beer, there's a good dose of citrus hop aroma on the nose that's mixed with some grapefruit and a bit of lemon. There are also some light pine scents, with some underlying bready malt and caramel notes.
BrainDead Red opens hop-forward with strong grapefruit and pine flavors and roasty, bready malt undertones. As you would find in a traditional IPA, the bitter flavors envelop the tongue throughout the entire experience. Toward the middle, I pick up some caramel notes, while other hop complexities become present in the taste. While the malt flavors begin to fade, a little dark fruit peeks through timidly. Lighter tastes of lemon and pine develop toward the end. The finish is very dry, and somewhat astringent, but clean and enjoyable all the same.
This beer has a nice, creamy body that's balanced with a slightly lower than average carbonation level — a choice that really allows for the hop flavors to develop. The finish is dry with an enjoyable lingering bitter flavor.
Overall, BrainDead Red is an aggressively hopped, but ultimately, attractive India Red Ale. It's a beer that brings together the balanced malts of an ale with all the intense citrus, grapefruit and piney hoppy goodness you'd expect from an American IPA.
Without a doubt, BrainDead drinks like an IPA — but with a well-balanced malt backbone.
It's a solid beer and one I would order certainly again on repeat visits to Braindead. Cheers to the still-young brewpub and its head brewer, Drew Huerter, for continuing a fine start for their exciting venture.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give BrainDead Brewing Company's India Red Ale a 7.
What's happening in the area brew scene? (Powered by Dallas Brew Scene.)
• Saturday, June 20. Best Little Brew Fest in Texas at Old Town Lewisville.
• Saturday, June 20. Barrel-Aged Bonanza at Central Market (Fort Worth).
• Monday, June 22-26. Karbach Brewering Co NTX Launch.
• Wednesday, July 29. Vegan Beer Dinner at Libertine.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Lakewood's Hopochondria: 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort: 5.
• Four Corners Heart O' Texas: 4.
• Audacity's Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company's IPA: 4.
• Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• Miller Lite: 1.