Red Stripe Lager
Desnoes & Geddes
I was thrilled to realize that Dragon Stout, one of the few recipients of my coveted* A+ ratings, was a product of the same Jamaican brewery that makes Red Stripe. How exciting! Red Stripe, one of those beers you just see sitting around everywhere, always has seemed to occupy the same realm as Labatt: an import that your average Joe can grab that’s a half-step above the ordinary, mostly noteworthy for the little bottles. Could it be a hidden gem? It turns out I won’t find out, because Red Stripe is brewed under license in the US, not at the D&G breweries. So it’s similar to the original- probably? I’m disappointed, but luckily I have this beer right here that I can use to drown those sorrows.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
Red stripe is established enough that it doesn’t really bother to hype itself up. My standard backup sources for beer info mostly just say “It’s OK.” So instead, let’s learn fun facts about getting Red Stripe to the US! It was originally seen as a competitor to Heineken and sold here in green glass bottles, but tourists to Jamaica came home to find something unlike their beloved squat bottles and mistrusted it. Just after they started getting the bottles right, importing was suspended due to the shipping containers being used to smuggle weed to Florida. They even reduced to 11.2 oz/bottle in the US (Although the original Jamaican size was 12 oz) to seem more “import-like.” Now you know!
Red Stripe is pale straw gold with a thin but dense mostly-white head. The nose is plain grain with some sulfurous notes. The taste is immediate and malt-forward with slightly stale backbone. There’s some effervescent tingling but the beer sits pretty heavy on the tongue. The back end is mildly peppery with the barest hint of hops, and it leaves behind a musty old-beer taste, like the smell in a dive bar.
There’s not much to say about this because there’s not much to it- I knew I wasn’t getting anything grand, but this is as good as Budweiser if that. It’s got a funky sulfur taste and starts feeling stale as soon as it stops being ice-cold. It’s not the worst beer I’ve ever had, but that’s only because it’s not ambitious enough to fail that hard. I’d drink it straight out of an icy cooler on a camping trip, but there’s no reason to drop a couple bucks a bottle when you could just get any other generic industrial lager to do the same job of washing down your burgers and brats on the holiday weekend.
The Bottom Line:
*The claim that an A+ rating by me is “coveted” has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be considered as a formal diagnosis. You should always consult your doctor to see if you’re healthy enough to trust my opinions.