New Brew Review: Elevation’s Downpour Imperial Red Ale
Ever since I tried my first sip of Elevation Beer Co’s Apis IV (their first bottled release) last summer, I’ve been closely following this fledgling Colorado brewery. From what I’ve seen so far, they consistently put out high quality beers at a price that’s relatively easy on the beer geek’s wallet. So when their newest release, Downpour Imperial Red Ale, hit the Denver-area market a few weeks ago, I thought it was time for a review.
Straight from the label:
Downpour is named after the sudden thunderous downpour that hit the Elevation Team during a “team building” trip of paddle boating and beer at Chaffee County’s Cottonwood Lake. The hot day on the lake and its enlivening, bitter, cold downpour inspired us to create an Imperial Red Ale with a combination of the fresh bitterness of 4 different types of hops and the warming of a big malt backbone. This beer is perfectly balanced for the warmth of summer sun and the cold of fall rain.
Downpour balances on the border between malt and huge hop flavors, mulch like the balance between warm summer days and the bitter cold thunderstorms we get here in the high country of Colorado. The beer pours a hazy redwood red with a white fluffy head. Hops dominate the nose with pine, earth and grapefruit, balanced slightly by caramel malt flavors and hints of our fruity London Ale yeast. The beer hits the palate with bitter hop notes and is balanced by bready malt. A beer for the hop freaks among us.
Appearance: Poured from a 750 mL, corked and caged bottle into a tulip glass, the beer is, well, it’s red. Says so right on the bottle. There’s no foolin’ there. No sediment, just a nice, dark, ruby red with a steady, controlled stream of carbonation throughout. The head shapes up 3-fingers tall and is frothy, off-white, and resembles a creamy latte. Plenty of lacing to coat the walls of my glass all around. Downpour just looks awesome. Score: 4.5/5
Aroma: Piney hops, sweet caramel and bread make up the bulk of the aroma. There’s also a touch of citrus and if you close your eyes there’s a bit of wood and honey. Mmmmm…. Score: 4/5
Taste: First sip is biscuit, nuts and citrus hops. It’s as if I’m eating a slice of hop bread baked by a mischievous baker. Second sip, more hops jump out, with pineapple, peaches and mango lurking in the background. It’s leaning towards an IPA, but never quite crosses that line. The bottle says 90 IBU’s, but it’s not overly bitter by any means. That’s where the “Red” comes in. The malty, rich, caramel notes keep the hops in check and prevent this brew from becoming just another bitter hop bomb. West coast Red mixes with a malty ESB. To hell with style guidelines. What you should know is the combo works and it’s freakin’ tasty. Score: 4/5
Mouthfeel: Downpour is full flavored and brings a medium, yet not too heavy or syrupy mouthfeel to the table. It finishes on the bitter side and like a red wine, it leaves your palate dry. What to do, what to do??? Whet that thing and drink some more! Score: 4.5/5
Overall: People, I only paid $8.99 for this 750 mL bottle and it didn’t disappoint on any level. It brings a beautiful pour, aroma, flavor and finish to the table. As prices on the craft beer market continue to rise, sometimes approaching ridiculous levels (cough, Woodcut, cough, cough), Elevation keeps it in check by offering well crafted AND affordable beers. It’s beers like Downpour that allow the macro-crap drinkers to make the switch over to high quality, craft beer. Score: 4.25/5
Add Elevation Beer Co to your list of Colorado breweries to watch and seek out your own bottles of Downpour while they last. You won’t be disappointed.