Love Fuzz Red Pale Ale — Black Oak Brewing Co.

In the beer scene, beer names are often based off of puns, or pop culture references, or sometimes inside jokes. Sometimes, understanding the reference is like a rite of passage. Do you know who Johnny Simcoe is? Maybe. Do you know what river got lost near Bellwoods? If you’re a history buff, probably. But who is Miranda, and why don’t you have a chance? Love Fuzz from Black Oak fits into this category. I’m just going to leave it there, and assume it has to do with the musical tastes of John Hodd. I will speak to the fact that it’s billed as a red pale ale, which is a “style” that sort of defies style. Before I poured it, I would have assumed it was an American Amber/Red. But it’s definitely not. Looking and smelling, I thought basically a BIPA. But it’s not that either. Let’s see what it actually is.

Love Fuzz Red Pale Ale — Black Oak Brewing Co.

Love Fuzz Red Pale Ale — Black Oak Brewing Co.

From a 650ml bottle, Love Fuzz Red Pale Ale pours, well, a rather very dark brown as pictured. Held to sunlight, though, it’s a stunning vibrant deep red. It’s pretty hard to capture that in a staging with no supplemental lighting, and not requiring you to move your 45 year-old receiver (and yes, I’m bragging. Any geeks want to ID it? Or the station I’m listening to right now?). Okay, nice tight just off-white head laces the glass well. Aroma is big leafy and earthy hops immediately, with a huge, sweet, nearly molasses malty shot. Actually, this has a very fascinating aroma, it’s almost like a baby American-style barley wine. Only if we’re really going to screw with styles here, of course. There’s a very good interplay between very big notable aromas in the hops and malts. Taste is amazing too, here the sweetness hits right away, definitely molasses and classic munich malt caramelliness. Maybe even a bit of toast. Then the hops come in, with biting astringency first, then a big shot of tannic leafy hops. There’s maybe just a hint of citrus. Finish is actually a rather good balance of those sweet malts, with a nice dry lingering hoppy bite. Seriously, crank up the alcohol content from it’s current 6.2% to 8.2%, add a bit of alcohol bite, and this would totally be a barley wine. But with its lighter body, and less heat, it just drinks like a rather malty American-style pale ale.  Except the hops are not juicy west coast hops, they’ve got a nearly English-bite to them. It sits somewhere between a BIPA and a standard pale ale. Which is interesting, indeed. On the one hand, I’m glad they didn’t call it an India Red Ale, but I was honestly expecting something rather different with the name “Red Pale Ale” (was thinking it would be just a rather amber-hued pale ale). Though I suppose as it doesn’t really fit into BIPA, IPA or APA — and I don’t have a better suggestion — red pale ale will work just fine. Overall, this is a cool beer, maybe not an entry-level foray into pale ales, but if you like hops, and want some balance, I’d bet you love this one.

Buy Love Fuzz Red Pale Ale

At the Black Oak retail store right now in limited supply, and at some extra-special bars around Toronto. If your bar often has Black Oak on tap, check in, there might be a keg of this on right now, or about to be tapped.

Drink This With

This is actually really tough. Maybe a beautiful slice of fresh soda bread with a nice creamy cheese; perhaps a young cheddar? You almost want to paint a picture of complimentary tastes (the bread) underneath, then give the beer something to play off of (nice creamy cheese for the astringency to cut through).

About Black Oak Brewing Co.

Black Oak is a stickler for quality, character and consistency. We use premium ingredients, traditional brewing processes and lots of hard work. Quality, Character and Consistency give us really good beers. We love good beer and we’ve been inspired by other world-class beers. We want to provide you with fresh, hand crafted, local beer that matches the best of the world. — @BlackOakBrewing at Twitter & Instagram

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