Versus Battles #3: Red Ale



Cue the Rocky music, da, da da da, da da daaaaaaa, because ‘Versus Battles #3’ is here. The segment that pits two beers of the same style head to head against each other. The 2015 BJCP style guide lines has be used to judge both beers on its aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, with my own personal opinion rounding out the analysis.

I fully understand that most breweries don’t brew beers to match style guide lines and that is why I have added my own personal opinion. Matching style guide lines means that even though a beer is brilliantly made and extra tasty, it wont necessarily win any awards due to not matching style. The style guide lines for an America Red IPA have been added to the bottom of this article for anyone who wants to have a look.

With water that comes from an underground aquifer, Clare Valley are blessed with the best starting base for beer. The CVBC Red Ale has undergone a few transformations over the years mainly in the name department, initially being called Orangutang Red Ale, then changing to Monkey’s Uncle and finally sticking with plain and simple Red Ale. Featuring hops Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo and Chinook, this Red Ale is the CVBC team’s flagship beer.

Born in 2000 in a bar’s basement on the outskirts of Perth, John from Nail brewed and distributed beer even before Little Creatures. 2004 saw John get involved in a fight that left him in a coma and struggling to survive. Luckily, he pushed through and started a contract brewing business with Brendan Varis from Feral. Now John runs a 50 HL brew house and pumps out five core range beers and some specialities; including Clout Stout. The Red Ale is an American inspired beer, jammed packed with Citra hops which creates a rich florally aroma.

Style Factors Clare Valley Nail Category Winner

Round 1

Huge caramel and toffee malt aroma. Limited hop but some melon and pine smells presenting. Grass, pine and some tropical fruit hits the nose with no malt in sight.  Nail



Round 2

Deep dark red in colour. A little hazy but hard to spot due to the dark colour. Brownish head that is fast dissipating. Extremely hazy. Deep amber colour with off white head. Very persistent head.  


Clare Valley




 Round 3

Toasty malts present first with a large backing of caramel and toffee. It is all about the malts, with limited hop presence. Sweet malts but no caramel or toffee from the malts. Grass and pine takes over the mouth, with a bitter aftertaste. Matches style.  






 Round 4

Medium to thick bodied with a smooth creamy texture. No astringency which is good. Very thin bodied and no creaminess. Low to medium carbonation. Clare Valley
The King’s Opinion

 Final Round

Loving the malt bill on this one. Fresher version have more of a hop aroma and flavour which is delicious but even without the hop freshness, this is great as it is a rest from all the hop heavy beers on the market today. This one is very different to the Clare Valley, in the sense it is hop driven rather than malt driven. Unfortunately, it is a little thin and the hops over power the malt. Great aroma though.  



Clare Valley



THE WINNER IS…… Clare Valley Red Ale 3 points to 2.


The closet ‘Versus Battle’ yet, with some hard decisions needed to be made in many of the categories. Clare Valley wins the appearance section due to the clarity of the beer but lost the aroma round due to a lack of hop aroma. Mouthfeel was to perfection for the Clare Valley Red Ale with a medium bodied, full flavoured beer. I chose the Clare Valley over the Nail because of the rich maltiness of the beer. A splash of hop and a smooth creamy texture that finishes off the beer.

Specialty IPA: Red IPA

Overall Impression: Hoppy, bitter, and moderately strong like an American IPA, but with some caramel, toffee, and/or dark fruit malt character. Retaining the dryish finish and lean body that makes IPAs so drinkable, a Red IPA is a little more flavourful and malty than an American IPA without being sweet or heavy.

Aroma: A moderate to strong fresh hop aroma featuring one or more characteristics of American or New World hops, such as tropical fruit, stone fruit, citrus, floral, spicy, berry, melon, pine, resinous, etc. Many versions are dry hopped and can have an additional fresh hop aroma; this is desirable but not required. Grassiness should be minimal, if present. A medium low to medium malty-sweet aroma mixes in well with the hop selection, and often features caramel, toffee, toasty, and/or dark fruit character. Fruitiness from yeast may also be detected in some versions, although a neutral fermentation character is also acceptable. A restrained alcohol note may be present, but this character should be minimal at best. Any American or New World hop character is acceptable; new hop varieties continue to be released and should not constrain this style.

Appearance: Colour ranges from light reddish-amber to dark reddish-copper. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Medium-sized, off-white to cream-colored head with good persistence.

Flavour: Hop flavour is medium to very high, and should reflect an American or New World hop character, such as citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, etc. Medium-high to very high hop bitterness. Malt flavour should be medium-low to medium, and is generally clean but malty-sweet up front with medium-dark caramel, toffee, toasty and/or dark fruit malt flavours. The character malt choices and the hop selections should complement and enhance each other, not clash. The level of malt flavour should not adversely constrain the hop bitterness and flavour presentation. Low yeast-derived fruitiness is acceptable but not required. Dry to medium-dry finish; residual sweetness should be medium-low to none. The bitterness and hop flavour may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. A very light, clean alcohol flavour may be noted in stronger versions.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, with a smooth texture. Medium to medium-high carbonation. No harsh hop derived astringency. Very light, smooth alcohol warming not a fault if it does not intrude into overall balance.

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