Profiled by Tom Becham for professorgoodales.net
Let it never be said that I don’t admit my mistakes, or that I don’t try to be fair with beer. That is one reason why I always give any particular beer at least two tries. Beer is so easily spoiled that it is almost a miracle to find it in the right condition upon drinking.
Some time ago, I had written the following:
“Our second AleSmith encounter was during lunch at the Stone Brewing Bistro and World Gardens in Escondido (more on the Stone experience later on). Unfortunately, this resulted in my tasting the first AleSmith beer I didn’t like. It was a red/amber ale of about 6% ABV called My Bloody Valentine, but it should have been called “My, What a Bloody Mess”. The first hint of trouble was the beer’s appearance. While it was the proper hue of red for its style, it had a cloudy, turbid look that was disturbing, and absolutely no head. It had a very strong grapefruit hop aroma. The mouthfeel was like mud, and quite off-putting. The flavor had a decent malt backbone, with resiny, grassy hops dominating the aftertaste. All in all, it was a thoroughly unpleasant drinking experience. I would like to give AleSmith the benefit of the doubt on this one, and attribute the faults with this beer to Stone’s shoddy keg maintenance. At some point, I shall have to give My Bloody Valentine a second chance.”
So, one would obviously grasp from that paragraph that I usually love the beers of Alesmith, but that My Bloody Valentine was somewhat less than stellar. I am now happy to admit that my initial impression was probably due only to some hygiene issues with the keg and/or lines when I initially had the beer on tap. The bottled version was fantastic!
I had some trepidation when I first saw this bottled in my local liquor store early in February. Nonetheless, having a “two tries” policy, I felt I had to give My Bloody Valentine another shot, and am I glad I did.
This was the first bottling of the beer, it having only been available on tap before now. And I do think that Alesmith has changed the recipe a bit, too, and worked out a few bugs.
On the pour, this beer is now more of a reddish-brown, with a small head (about a finger-and-a-half) appropriate for an English Bitter. The head dissipates somewhat quickly which isn’t unexpected for a beer of (honest to dog) 6.66% ABV.
The aroma is still hoppy, but not as potent as on my first try of this beer. Now, it smells not floral, as the label states, but still somewhat grapefruit-y. In fact, if you are familiar with Anchor’s Old Foghorn Barleywine, it is almost a dead-ringer for that beer, aroma-wise.
The flavor is much improved, as well, and starts with a toffeeish, bready malt, followed by a mellow and pleasant resiny hop bite. I want to say these are Noble Hops, but this version of the beer is so well-blended, that it’s difficult to tell.
Finally, the greatest improvement lies in the mouthfeel. It is no longer muddy and disgusting. It is still a bit on the “chewy” side, but not overly so, given the overall structure of the beer.
The finish is pleasing, balanced perfectly, and fades slowly.