My friends and I ventured to Beer Rev this past Friday to 1) try a variety of beers (obvi), and 2) enjoy the outdoor deck during a smoldering 80-degree evening in Oakland. It was my turn to buy a round, so I headed back to the fridge area to select a bottle. I had tried Knee Deep’s imperial red ale the day before only to be left a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Knee Deep is one of my favorite breweries. Their Simtra triple IPA is killer and their Tanilla porter is like drinking a bottle of vanilla ice cream. I hate to say it, but their imperial red ale, McCarthy’s Bane, felt a little too bitter and not one I’d seek out again. So after minutes of examining the numerous options at Beer Rev, I convinced myself to give imperial reds another go.
I had heard that Auburn Alehouse would make for a great pit stop when travelling to Tahoe. Unfortunately, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Tahoe. I know, seems kind of pathetic for a Bay Area native such as myself, but I never quite picked up skiing or snowboarding. Needless to say, I have yet to make it to Auburn Alehouse, but I was pretty stoked to learn that they bottle some of their beers. The Hop Donkey label caught by eye because it was simple yet informative. I felt like I knew exactly what I was getting into even before I cracked open the bottle. And sometimes on a hot Friday night, you just want to drink something cold and refreshing.
My expectations for this beer were pretty low because I don't usually seek out beers made by brewpubs. Whelp, I was wrong. Hop Donkey was the best beer of the night. Actually, I think all of us were a pretty surprised with how good the beer tasted. Each sip was almost shockingly better than the next. And when I woke up the next morning to check out the Great American Beer Festival medalists, I was thrilled to read that Hop Donkey had won silver in the Imperial Red Ale category. I mean, who knew?! Having “discovered” the beer the day before, I was ecstatic over the news. It was almost as if I had won the medal myself…well, almost.
Hop Donkey is a malty yet pleasingly crisp red ale, perfect on a hot day for a dark beer drinker.