The next Scottish beer review is… not Scottish at all. When I picked up The Marlow Brewery‘s Rebellion Red from the batch of Scottish ales at Tesco, I logically assumed that it was Scottish. Who wouldn’t when it’s placed next to a bottle of Orkney Brewery Red MacGregor and named something that the Scot’s are and like doing.
It may be confusing, yet you can’t accuse the front label of over doing it. In the contrary, it keeps it simple. And the black background of the label matches the colour of the bottle, giving it a very stylish look. And it should do to, as this is one heck of a premium priced 500 millilitre bottle, priced over £1.70 from my local Tesco. As it’s “A.B.V. 4.5%” is fairly tame, it must make up for it in flavour. One last thing about the front label is it left me confused about what to call it. Is that Red Rebellion in the sense of a Communist revolt? Or Rebellion Red that doesn’t make much sense?
That confusion carried over to the compact and concise rear label. Headed with “The Marlow Brewery”, “Rebellion” and “Red” I was puzzled as to who the brewery is and what they’ve called this beer. Skipping down to the bottle finally answered my questions. “Brewed by Rebellion Beer Company” “Marlow Brewery, Bencombe Farm” “Carlow Bottom, Bucks.” Plus the web address www.rebellionbeer.co.uk. Let’s see if I’ve got this right… This beer is called Red. It is brewed by Rebellion Beer Company at The Marlow Brewery. The Brewery is NOT in Scotland, but in Marlow Bottom in Buckinghamshire, England. Maybe I’m being dim-witted, or maybe things could be made a little clearer. What do you think?
After that session of brain training, we’re treated to a concise little description about the beer. Concise, apart from the marketing-speak, likening this beer to an artists palette. Apparently, we are to expect a beer redder than any we’ve seen yet. Amber, crystal and roasted malts it says, will see to that. From the taste, it tells us to expect maltiness and citrus fruit. Appetising, but so so. It’s not exactly original. They do go on however, to mention “Goldings, Fuggles and Cascade hops.” I don’t know what any of that means, but those words are usually on the labels of beers that taste good. So I figure Red is worth trying with an open mind. Lastly, they suggest serving at between 6 and 12 degree centigrade. I’ll just have to guess that that’s what my fridge will be.
In a glass, it does look reddish. Not soft drink or bloody mary red. More a dark shade of gold. Reddish, but not the blood red sunset sky I was expecting. The head was disappointing. Disappointing because their wasn’t one.
On the nose, Red is utterly inoffensive. A light malted barley smell. Gentle and pleasant. But it doesn’t stand out.
The smell is matched almost exactly by the taste. Which happens also to be pleasant and gentle malted barley. But with a hint of something citrus in there too. Very mildly bitter, the name Red is starting to make sense. That’s because, I think, this is a Ruby Ale. It just doesn’t say so anywhere. Am I right? Leave a comment if you’ve tried Red.
Working through the bottle was easy. Red isn’t at all gassy. It’s also very easy to drink. There are downsides however. The strength is one of them. 4.5% isn’t high. And the experience is watery. This isn’t full-bodied. Where some ales almost have the consistency of molten lead, Red is more like soda-stream. Not very bubbly flavouring added to water. With that said, Red is drinkable and pleasant. I grew to quite liked it.
So what is Red all about? How can I sum it up? And does it do anything unique? I’d have to say that Red fills the gap of a light and easily accessible ruby ale. And that’s a good niche to fill. It has its downsides. The price is one of them. But overall, there’s more to like about this bottle and dislike.
Have you tried Red or any other Rebellion beers/ales?
Or do you have any recommendations of your own?
If so, leave a comment!