McLovin Irish Red Ale from Vintage Brewing Company
"As brewers, we're all looking for a little McLovin," laughs Vintage brewmaster Scott Manning about the brew he's releasing just in time for Valentine's Day. McLovin is the name of his Irish Red that just went on tap at the west-side brewpub. It's a beer that is sweet, satisfying and, alongside roses and chocolates, sure to please!
What is it? McLovin from Vintage Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin.
Style: The Irish-style red is, as its name indicates, a reddish-amber to light-brown beer. The color comes from a light amount of roasted barley in the mash. The style is medium-bodied and can offer a moderate bitterness, but there is minimal to no hop aroma. More commonly, the caramel sweetness from the malts stands out, and the style can sometimes offer a light fruity background. Irish Red Ales range in alcohol content from 4% to 4.5% ABV.
Background: Scott Manning has made McLovin about four times since the brewpub opened in 2010. His latest version has been tweaked slightly from those initial batches by adding an English yeast that gives a bit of authenticity to this red ale. The core recipe features a blend of malts that include English Maris Otter and caramel varieties, a small amount of roasted barley, and also a touch of oats for added body. Manning uses English Northdown and Slovenian Styrian Golding hops that give McLovin a little bitterness with a hint of dryness in the finish. However, the beer really isn't very hoppy at 13 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
Manning laughs off any association to the character named McLovin from the movie Superbad, but admits that one of his partners is indeed a fan of the movie.
McLovin takes about three weeks to make, and it finishes at 5.2% ABV. It sells for $4/pint and $10/growler (refill). You can find it at both the west-side brewpub and the downtown Vintage. McLovin is expected to be on tap from now through St. Patrick's Day.
By the way, we're entering bock season, and Vintage Brewing is planning a special event that bock beer enthusiasts won't want to miss. The brewpub is hosting "Boxing of the Bocks" at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29. The battle will feature a beer-to-beer discussion and a tasting of eight bocks brought by Capital Brewing's Kirby Nelson and the Great Dane's Rob LoBreglio. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door from Vintage on the west side.
- Aroma: Light, but firm maltiness with a little hint of fruitiness.
- Appearance: Reddish-amber with a thick, soft, tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied, bubbly and round.
- Taste: A solid, medium maltiness with smooth caramel tones and a light fruitiness in the background.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Malty with a light accent of roasted-barley.
Glassware: The basic bar pint suits this beer nicely. While it won't do much for aroma or flavor, it'll show off the beer's color.
Pairs well with: McLovin really loves food -- it'll go with almost anything. The brewpub's fish tacos, filled with beer-battered whitefish, shrimp and a touch of Hoodoo Voodoo hot sauce, blend well with this beer.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: McLovin is a medium-bodied beer with a firm maltiness. There is really nothing too unusual about it -- it's just a very nice, middle-of-the-road, well-done Irish red. Great with food, and very much a session beer, so you can enjoy more than one in a sitting without feeling too full. McLovin is a beer that's well worth a little love -- so try sharing a pint or two with a special someone this Valentine's Day.