Beer Review 0243: New Belgium Red Hoptober

Last year, I reviewed New Belgium’s fall seasonal brew, which was simply called Hoptober. It was a Blonde Ale that had plenty of hops, and I thought it to be pretty good, scoring it 89 points.

As they do every couple of years, New Belgium, out of Fort Collins, Colorado, switched things up this year. All of their seasonal offerings changed — and the one for fall became Red Hoptober, now an Amber Ale that is supposed to feature plenty of hops and a nice malty balance.

The ingredient list for this beer features a hefty hop bill of Target, Nugget, Cascade, El Dorado, and Centennial; the malts used are sparing — just Pale and C-80. Red Hoptober is 6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 60 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

When I first saw this in the store, I was slightly upset that the regular old Hoptober had been replaced; I very much enjoyed that beer, so I hope this lives up to the usual New Belgium fall seasonal.

The pour made an average size head, creamy and fast diminishing, but the thin cover that remained did hang around. The color of the beer is a perfect amber when held to the light, and more of a deep red when gazed at away from brightness. Like most New Belgium beers, this one is filtered and is completely clear, free of any particles and sediment. Lacing started out strong but faded as I sipped, leaving some fair streaks here and there on my glass.

The nose of this beer is wonderfully perfect, in terms of a balance between hops and malt. New Belgium nailed it with Red Hoptober; the hops are grapefruit-forward, with some general citrus and a dark note of pine. The malts are right there in equal amount, featuring aromas of caramel, some bread-like notes and little snippets of toffee and chocolate. Sweet versus dank, and it’s very good and quite complex.

The taste opens with a crack of pine and caramel, with some bitter grapefruit rind that dries the mouth out just a bit. On the middle, there’s a dash of dark chocolate, which mixes well to zap a little of the hop bitterness, and the finish opens up with a lightly bitter grapefruit hit; the bitterness fades quickly and develops more into a caramel sweetness. My mouth was buzzing and happy! This is a good beer, with a thin but creamy and foamy mouthfeel, and a medium body.

New Belgium improved upon their fall seasonal with this beer, for sure. In fact, I can’t think of any other fall seasonal that matches the changing weather so perfectly — we still have ample hop, which is typically a summer flavor, and it’s balanced to an even match with flavorful malts, typically a winter taste. And summer + winter? It equals autumn — well, it could be spring, too; but we’re going with fall here.

Solid! Pick up a sixer of this, you won’t be disappointed, and the price is right.

New Belgium Red Hoptober, 94 points. Price: $1.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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