Beer Review – Red Oak Lager

I had driven past the brewery many times while on I-85. I had looked high and wide (when in North Carolina) for the beer. Then one day, last Wednesday to be specific, a 12 of it appeared in my house.

Red Oak Brewery of Whitsett, NC is the brewery that taunted me. Purveyors of German style beverages that strictly follow the 1516 Laws of Purity, they proudly announce their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized. Because of this, it must be cold at all times. Many craft beers fall into this category of “natural”/”organic”/”unpasteurized.” To give a  quick explanation of the modern “unpasteurized” beer, let’s defer to Best Natural Foods:

Big Beer pasteurizes beers after bottling to prevent microbes from causing “off” flavors. These microbes, however, do not cause illness. Craft brewers do not typically pasteurize, and while there is little evidence to support any claims, I expect that research will ultimately reveal that unpasteurized “live” beers are nutritionally superior to pasteurized beers. The major difference between Big Beer and craft brewers, according to Quinn, extends beyond pasteurization to filtration. He says, “The big guys filter their beer to remove yeast and protein that causes the beer to cloud at lower temps, called chill haze.” But filtering the yeast removes most of the B vitamins – think brewer’s yeast – and other nutrients like chromium, evidence that unfiltered beers are more nutritious.

Some brewers are reverting back to “bottle-conditioning”, a centuries-old tradition of preserving beer. Bottle-conditioned beers undergo a second brief fermentation – in the bottle – which carbonates the beer naturally. In addition, the added yeast fights off the microbes that cause “off” flavors and enables the beer to improve with age, like a bottle of wine.

History and organic chemistry lesson out of the way…the beer.

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Malted barley, Bavarian Hops, yeast. That’s it. And water, can’t forget that. This is one of the cleanest feeling and tasting beers I’ve ever had. Smooth and mellow, there’s a still-baking bread opening that ends with the living embodiment of “refreshing.” If refreshing had a taste, it’s here. Little to no nose (or my allergies are acting up, one of the two) doesn’t detract. This American amber is a glowing copper red. It’s a very inviting beer, and one that I can use as a starting point for non- and ambivalent beer drinkers. It’s a lager that has character and depth.

What would you expect from a brewer who spent part of high school in Switzerland? (Switzerland is close to Germany, so I hear.)

Downsides….comes in 12-packs (SHUCKS!!), and only available in North Carolina. Dang.

If you’re in NC, pay these good people a visit and grab a case. You won’t be disappointed.

# of instances of “unpasteurized” – including this, 5; “pasteurized” – 1

ABV – 5%
Look/Color – 9
Smell – 5
Taste – 9
Overall – 7.7
Price – $18.99 for a 12 pack


2 Responses

  1. Where in Nc can you buy this without going to the brewery? I have looked everywhere for it. Thanks

  2. Linda,

    My In-Laws-To-Be found cases at the Total Wine in Matthews. Here’s the contact info.

    10052 East Independence Blvd
    Matthews, NC 28105
    (704) 849-2022

    Even if you’re not out that way, give them a call. The staff there has been very helpful the times I’ve been there.

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