The Brewery: North Coast Brewing Company, Ft. Bragg, CA
The Stats: 5.4% ABV; 42 IBU
The Story: American brewers are relatively new to the brewing game. In fact, most beer styles enjoyed in America today originated in other countries and came here when immigrants arrived. Because of this, there are only a few styles of beer that are actually indigenous to the States, and the amber ale is one of the few and the proud.
Amber ales are the definition of a balanced beer. Brewers have the discretion to lean slightly to the hoppy side or slightly to the malty side, but the objective is to get as close to the center of balance as possible.
The Details: Red Seal may be slightly on the hoppy side of center, but we don't hold that against North Coast. They've created an absolute masterpiece with Red Seal Ale.
Pouring copper in color and with great clarity, Red Seal has an eggshell head with everlasting retention made up of very small bubbles. Aromatically, imagine toasted Italian bread crust with a light yeasty character, alongside clean piney, citrus hops. Additionally, some caramel notes fill out the aromatic experience.
A complement of toasty malts and piney hops lead the flavor. Red Seal is slightly hop forward on the malt/hop continuum, and the initial sip produces clean hop flavor of citrus and pine in equal parts followed by toasted bread malt and some additional caramel-like malt additions. The crisp, clean, dry finish not only completes the flavor cycle, but also confirms Red Seal as a great palate cleanser. Pair this amber ale with red meats, chicken dishes, or anything deep fried.
Red Seal has a medium body providing substance, but not too much, while the medium-high carbonation produces a beautiful carbonic bite that enhances the aromatics of the beer.
Multi-time winner of some of the most prestigious medals in the brewing industry, there is no better amber ale made in the United States than Red Seal. Since amber ale is an American style through and through, Red Seal could and should be considered the prime example of a classic American amber ale.
Red Seal and other North Coast beers can be found at any fine craft beer stores. This one was purchased at Total Wine in Gilbert. Check out the North Coast Brewing website for more information.