The double (or imperial) red ale is a widely brewed beer, but easily overlooked with so much hype directed toward mega-IPAs, barrel-aged stouts, and experimental beers made from outrageous ingredients. These beers fit awkwardly as a subset of the massively inclusive amber ale category. The color these beers are named for comes from the malt used to make the beer, and their flavors could favor the malty sweetness or hoppy bitterness, depending on the brewer’s intention. My favorite examples of this style are beers that exhibit stronger malt sweetness, balanced (though not overwhelmed) by roasty bitterness from the amber malt, with some bready notes thrown in for good measure.
Ninkasi Brewing (out of Eugene, OR) is a wonderful brewery that has been cranking out craft beer classics since 2006, but only in the last couple of years have they been distributing to Northern California. This brewery takes its name from the Sumerian goddess of brewing (among other things), and Ninkasi’s Believer Double Red Ale is their tribute to the faithful. This beer pours a deep, dark amber with a slightly off-white head. The aroma is sweet with a bit of roastiness that provides a good outline of the beer’s flavor. On the tongue there’s more of the same—malty sweetness and roast notes delivered via moderate carbonation. This is a beer, a style, and a brewery worth exploring.