Last June I reviewed an XP Pale Ale from Bear Republic of Healdsburg, California and was mightily impressed. The trade paper...or brewspaper...Celebrator Beer News reported on a visit to Bear Republic in its June 2005 issue and mentioned the brewmasters other interests:
Norgrove is not only the brewer of award-winning ales such as Racer 5 IPA, Red Rocket Ale and Hop Rod Rye at Bear Republic Brewery in the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, Calif. He’s also marched in the U.S. Army, put out fires as a volunteer firefighter and revved at the redline as a professional racing instructor and stock car driver.Though the operation looks fairly small with the brewery advertised along with their brew pub and restaurant, they seem fairly aggressive in their marketing across the US, even getting into the Alaskan market. Their ales are available at the Galeville Grocery and, I think, Party Source as well, both in Syracuse. Last time I was down I picked up these two 22 oz bottles for 4.39 USD each.
- Red Rocket Ale: This beer pours a long lasting beige rocky head over deep red amber ale giving off a rich smell of raisiny malt and spice. The first sip is extremely pleasant, rich and large bodied with the biscuit and fruit of a fig newton, some dried apple and even cinnamon, though this is likely the spice of the hops with a smidge of chocolate malt. There could also be some black malt back there as the label claims this is a bastardized Scottish style red ale. Despite all that, there is much juiciness. There is also a core of heat, which is to be expected at 6.8% with a wrapper of green hop spice. The effect could be taken for mint or menthol under all that round rich goodness. Every vote of the BAers is in favour. The brewery's website explains that they use both Belgian and British crystal malts in this ale and mentions the stack of awards it has won. Quality and big, sweet and hot enough to stand up to a mess of BBQ.
Tribute Brown Ale: Wow. Not as complex as the Red Rocket but really worthy. A lighter bodied chocolate beer. This fairly high carbonation red mahogany ale sits under a constantly renewing foam of tight tiny brown bubbles. For 6.3% this is inordinately light for all this nutty dark dry chocolate flavour. Some date fruit as well and a nicely placed structural hop bitter keeping well back of the malt. Chalky yeast as befits a proper brown ale. The BAers say yea!