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Great Beer: Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ale

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Where do we go from here?

 

How about four point one kilometers northwest of the Mousetrap? It’s walkable and certainly bikeable, especially on a slightly humid yet gorgeous Chicago evening, although you will have to cross under the Kennedy…

You made it! Aren’t you glad you biked/walked and don’t have to deal with parking your motor vehicle? Welcome to Logan Square and the Revolution Brewing taproom, home of Josh Deth, another former Goose Island brewer that started Revolution in 2010. You’ve met Josh before on his functional and fully operational battle station, yet there are so, so many more beer options (Hugene! Chistar! Hop Dust Torture!) to explore with your duck fat popcorn.

As it’s Chicago weather, though, you should begin and end with REVOLUTION BREWERY’s Rosa, a golden ale that’s incongruously amber with shades of brilliant pink shining through the light, due to the addition of the flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa (or maybe another species?) at some point in the brewing/fermentation process¹ ². Rosa smells like strawberries accidentally left on the counter until they’re juuuust a bit overripe and ready to devour, stems and all. The aroma also tickles those olfactory neurons with the nostalgia of Barq’s Red Cream Soda on a golf course when you were a kid, plus rose bushes and those other flowers—whatever they’re called, they’re yellow usually—that smell real nice.

You’re expecting Rosa to taste sweet, but it surprises you with a crisp, dry bitterness that’s floral and herby—minty, subtle rosemary, gardenia maybe?—and not exactly hoppy. Does cold hibiscus tea —the ‘rosa de Jamaica,’ as the bags of dried hibiscus flowers at the Vallarta supermarket—taste like this?! What have you been missing all these years?

In addition, darker fruit flavors like deep red plum, slightly sour red cherry, and that overripe-yet-perfectly-ripe strawberry mentioned earlier pop up to say hi, then dissolve into a rosy, minty, herbal bitterness that ask—no, beg—no plead!—for more. As Rosa warms, it loses a bit of the dark fruit and mint characteristics to become a dry, slightly tart strawberry-scented structured ale that, if it’s a warm Midwest early spring day or a mundane day in the life of someone who lives outside the Revolution distribution area, you will desperately desire.

I would never, ever get tired of drinking Rosa.  —B.S.

 

Presumably the hibiscus is added during or just after fermentation—as hibiscus tea is popular worldwide; hopefully it’s safe to assume the Revolution crew makes a concentrated tea and adds it long after the boil to preserve the delicate and unmistakable herbal, floral, fruity smells and tastes. You know what assuming does, though!

Yeah, the 2018 Rosa can does indeed have a different design. The Rosa reviewed for this review was of the 2017 vintage and was photographed, enjoyed, and written about on 21 August 2017. Yeah, I know, that was an awful long time ago, but, as Luther says when he tries to pick up Reggie Hammond’s Porsche with the $USD 500,000 stashed in the trunk in that early-80s classic 48 Hrs., ‘Yeah…I’ve been BUSY!’

 

Find this beer at a store near you, or purchase on the internet:

October 10, 2018

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