Jolly Rodger 2010 (Drake’s Brewing)


Drake’s Brewing’s Jolly Rodger 2010 is another beer that I received for Christmas. This Imperial Red Ale was their winter seasonal and clocked in at 8.0% ABV with 68 IBUs.

The Jolly Roger holiday ale changes from year to year but is always highly anticipated and quickly sells out. This year, Jolly Rodger is an Imperial Red Ale. A big, malty beer with a huge hop aroma. We mashed in with plenty of two-row barley, carared and chocolate malt for body and flavor. Then we hopped it up with Columbus for bittering, then for flavor and aroma– lots of Chinook and Cascade. Finally, we dry hopped in the fermenter with loads more Chinook and Cascade. Weighing in at 8% ABV, this beer is sure to satisfy you hop-heads and malt-lovers alike. Make sure you reserve a keg of your own before it’s too late!

Even though Jolly Rodger is referred to as a red ale it pours a deep chestnut brown with ice tea highlights. The head is a creamy three inches of bubbly foam. Lacing splashes the side of the glass when the beer is swirled, but it doesn’t stay very long.

The smell is big on resinous hops and caramel. It’s almost like a hop nugget wrapped in toffee and I couldn’t help but picture a more “adult” version of a Riesen candy.

Taste comes through with a huge blast of hops (pine) with a hint of earth and caramel. This fades to a chocolatey backbone with a faint wood at the very end. A peppery spice appears as the beer warms. The dry-hopping is quite noticeable and makes for a smooth ending.

Mouthfeel is light on feel, but big on flavor. All of the hops add a stickiness that dries out your mouth quickly and with authority. It’s actually not all that pleasant, now that I think about it.

Jolly Rodger 2010 is easily one of the best Imperial Red Ale’s I’ve ever had. The hops and the sweet blend together in a wonderful melding of flavors that hide that somewhat large 8.0% ABV. As the beer warms it becomes a little more abrasive than I would prefer, but it’s still an easy drinking holiday treat.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10

As an IMPERIAL RED ALE: 8.5 out of 10

FOR FANS OF: Southern Tier BIG RED, Oskar Blues G’KNIGHT, Eel River CLIMAX NOEL


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