When, exactly, is a gimmicky beer title appropriate? Such is the question posed by AleSmith’s duo of holiday-themed red ales. Perhaps because the humble red isn’t the trendiest of sellers, the brewery has tied two riffs on red to the thematically appropriate timing of Halloween and Valentine’s day. While the fall variant (Evil Dead Red) leans more toward flavors of hoppy pine and citrus, the winter edition (My Bloody Valentine) leans into Whitman’s sampler flavors of chocolate, caramel, and cherry. Is it a Valentine’s Day novelty, or a serious sipper? Thankfully, it leans toward the latter.
My Bloody Valentine pours with a dramatic reddish brown hue; in a beer market saturated by IPAs, the color is really a bit jolting. There’s a slight haze to the ale, medium carbonation, and a notable foam collar with lengthy retention. The bottle art screams ‘50s matinee horror poster, with bloody hearts and lettering in pink and blood red.
AleSmith is a San Diego brewery, so it stands to reason that it isn’t going to skip any opportunity for hop aromatics. Here, you’ll find a lot of orange citrus, some spice, and a combination of savory herbal and floral accents. There’s also some surprising fruit esters of cherry and apple, and some malty bread, grains, and chocolate.
AleSmith’s West Coast winter spin on a red ale should win praise from IPA drinkers and fans of reds and ambers.”
The flavors in MBV follow the aromatics pretty closely, though there’s more hop character and bitterness here than you’d normally expect in a red. The dessert-leaning malt flavors of chocolate, toast, and baked bread are present, complemented by the orange and baking spice hoppy component. The beer feels more weighty and heavy than the 6.66% ABV would suggest—it’s rather burly. It’s a mouth-coating beer that has a fairly lengthy finish, with a lingering balance of both the savory hop and bready malt flavors.
AleSmith’s West Coast winter spin on a red ale should win praise from IPA drinkers and fans of reds and ambers. The recipe here mixes categories up just enough to be surprising, while still delivering the core character of a classic red. The rich aromatics would also make this a great pairing beer for a hard cheese or dessert course on Valentine’s Day.