When I was in Iowa City a couple weeks ago I picked up some beers, and most readers know I’m a sucker for cans, so I couldn’t pass up Great River Brewery’s offerings! I think I picked up one each of four different beers from this Quad City-based brewery and Roller Dam Red Ale is the first I’ve tried.

I usually avoid the “amber” or “red” style because it’s such a generic catch-all and you just never know what you’re going to get. Ambers tend to be boring to me, and I just never gravitate toward them, but for a couple bucks for an Iowa craft beer in a 16 ounce tallboy can… what could possibly happen?

I drank this beer from the usual plastic hotel cup. Poured a dark amber color, color, with a fluffy off-white head. Had a biscuity aroma that smelled great. The first sip blew me away. This is a really biscuity, malty beer, but there are plenty of hops to balance the malt so it’s not cloying.

Great River markets this beer as an Irish Red with 5.3%ABV and 30.6 IBU’s. The hops seemed more noticeable than that to me, but this is by no stretch a “hoppy” beer. This is all about the malts, but it has a nice balance to it. I would consider this a “calibration” beer for what people mean when they say a beer tastes “biscuity.” This is it! Once you taste this beer from the can you’ll say, “Aha! THAT’S what biscuity means!” The biscuit malt character carries all the way through to the aftertaste, which I thought has a slightly raisin character. I saw a couple of other reviews of this beer that said the aftertaste had some lemon character, so there is something in the flavor that has a bit of sweet-tart character that is also a nice part of the flavor profile.

I really enjoyed this beer a lot. My only regret is that I only bought one can and not a couple of 4-packs, which I will definitely do next time I find it. Maybe this will end my irrational fear of amber ales!

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