Got Beer? Taste Test: Foolproof’s Irish Rhode brings all the Irish with none of the cultural appropriation

irishrhodeThe next local beer in my infinity-part series of locally made refreshments is Foolproof’s Irish Rhode, which we alerted readers to in our beer issue ( I’ve had my eye on this one for some time now. An Imperial Red Ale aged in Jameson Whiskey casks, the Emerald-Isle-inspired brew has been taunting me from the shelves for weeks, so I saved up all my box tops and snagged a pack.

The label features a beautiful meadow with a winding country road, hazy sky and a pair of sheep. It might not sound too exciting, but it’s significantly more culturally sensitive than a dancing leprechaun or a tasteless twist on a Celtic cross.

It is a lovely shade of amber-red, and pours with a creamy white head of foam. The aroma is appropriately malty with the barest hint of something like whiskey. If anything, the nose is a bit underwhelming. Most cask-aged beers are boozy and let you know it, but this one is mild by comparison, at only 7.5% ABV.

The first sip certainly makes up for the quiet aromas. Before I can even process the taste, there’s a warmth going down into my belly, and yes, it’s a perfectly chilled pint, thanks for asking. There are lots of caramel and toasted malt notes with a hint of that classic Jameson’s buttery oak flavor, but that’s on the second sip. The first sip seemed oddly reversed, but I think my palate simply had to adjust. There’s a slight hint of an alcohol burn, giving this brew a bit of heat, but given what they were going for, it’s hardly a flaw. Honestly, I’ve had cask-aged beers from more seasoned breweries that came out much much boozier and a lot less tasty.

On a third sip, the alcohol seems to mellow, and some of the more subtle flavors start to come through. I’m definitely picking up some interesting variations on the caramel and toffee malt, and then the Jameson’s comes along and sweeps them away before I can fully identify them. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, just slightly vexing because I’m supposed to be able to pick this thing apart to tell you all how it tastes, and while “sweet and boozy” might be enough for some of you, it falls a little short of my personal goals.

This is an oddly smooth little cask brew, which is sort of dangerous in a higher ABV beer. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll smack you in the mouth right off the bat, but soon after, you’ll be carousing like best friends. I wonder if that’s some sort of extended metaphor for something that could be considered culturally insensitive.

Now if only someone could pass me a Scottish Ale aged in a Glenfiddich barrel, we’d really be in business!

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