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Back in the early ’90s I had a big taste for red ales, reveling in their roasty-toasty nature. And then I lost that taste. Red ales suddenly seemed cloying, and I gave up on them.
I hadn’t tasted a red ale in probably two decades, until just now when I cracked open a 16-ounce can of Free Speech Red Ale from Third Street Brewhouse of New Ulm, Minn.
I think I’m in love. Again. Red, I’m sorry I shunned you all these years. I can’t believe I treated you so shabbily by ignoring missed all your inner and outer beauty these many years. Free Speech Red Ale is a beautiful beer – beautiful to look upon and beautiful to sip.
The color is deep amber. But if you take a sideways look down into the glass it looks about as red as a beer can get.
The taste is deep as well, malt forward, especially with lip-sticking sweet caramel malt. I recall when brewing reds back in the day of my first love of them, I could not resist munching on the caramel malt. It’s cereal for adults – milk not necessary.
Third Street Brewhouse is the craft beer division of Cold Spring Brewery in Cold Spring, Minn., which should be a familiar name to anyone who grew up drinking beer in Minnesota. In a story on the successful, modern Cold Spring Brewery, Twin Cities Business magazine referred to the old image as “low-brow lagers relegated to the back corner of liquor stores.” It had become, the magazine contends, a “laughingstock of the beer industry.”
In other words, Cold Spring was universally regarded as cheap beer, just right for the budgets of the not-quite-adult and working poor Minnesotans, so, of course I was familiar with it. The brewery began in 1874 with prehistoric glacial water from its namesake, Cold Spring. Today they are a major craft contract brewer, making beer for other craft brew joints around the country, including its own Third Street Brewhouse.
Free Speech Red Ale was added to the lineup in March, and, hey, who isn’t for free speech? (Please, don’t answer that. I meant it rhetorically…).
I like Free Speech and I look forward to trying Third Street Brewhouse’s new summer sessionable, Sanity IPA.