Beers you must try: Great River Roller Dam Red Ale

Image from

(For those who like beer, this category is a compendium of beers you must try at least once. Note that all these featured here are beers of MODERATION. To quote a very wise man: drink less, and drink better.)

Irish Style Red Ale. This is how the excellent website defines it:

A bit sweet, with a lightly hopped tea-like flavor, and an even dextrinous body, Irish Red Ales are easy to please. Look for well-rounded and balanced flavors, and a pleasant toasted malt character in many examples. A drying finish is common.

If right now you’re thinking “Killian’s Irish Red,” go stand in the corner until I tell you to come back out. Killian’s is Coors Banquet with USDA Red #40 added. To paraphrase James Lileks: drink some tap water, then hit yourself between the eyes with a ball-peen hammer.

Great River Roller Dam Red Ale is brewed in Davenport, Iowa and available on tap and in 16 oz cans. Text on the can reads:

Roller Dam Red Ale is named for Mississippi River Lock and Dam #15, which is the largest roller dam in the world and just south of our brew house.

Irish red ales are lighter on the hops and heavier on the malt, sort of like a Scottish 70-shilling ale. The prevailing flavors are caramel and toffee, maybe vanilla, slightly biscuity, but not overpowering or cloying. A light mouthfeel with a slight creaminess, true to the style. A “kiss of the hops” (like Schlitz used to advertise) at the very end, drying and cutting the sweetness a bit. At 5.4% ABV, a fine session beer.

Sold only in Iowa so far. I’ll have to stock up if/when I’m down that way again. My sister Colleen brought me some back when she was at a writers’ conference in Iowa City. For someone who doesn’t like beer, she has phenomenal taste. A fine dam ale.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s