Merry Prankster Imperial Red Ale
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

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Beer Geek Stats:
Red Ale - Imperial
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3.69 | pDev: 15.18%
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
United States
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Reviews: 2 | Ratings: 3 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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DesMoinesMike from Iowa

3.13/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I must admit that I thought I could handle any hops that came my way, until I met this beast of a beer. I have met my match.

The dark amber/red color intrigued me and so did the mountain of head that rested on top. The aroma was fairly hopy, the taste was ALL HOPS! It stung at first, rested for about 10 seconds, then made the back of my tongue feel like it was on fire or getting a low-level electrical shock. There was a bit of a citrus flavor but I just could not enjoy this one because of the intensity.

Oct 16, 2009
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.45/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I admit that I was skeptical when I walked into Rock Bottom this afternoon and saw 'Merry Prankster IRA'. We all make jokes about 'Imperial' this and 'double' that and I had serious doubts about whether any brewer could pull off an Imperial Red. The beer at this particular Rock Bottom is good, but 'great' never struck me as a possibility. Until now.

Merry Prankster certainly looked the part of an IRA. It was a muddy red-brown with a suggestion of orange. I'll go with russet. There were sheets of carbonation rushing up to a light brown head that persisted at a solid one finger for the life of the pint. If I was to describe what I thought an IRA should look like, this would be pretty close, if not exactly it.

The aroma was strongly and gloriously hoppy. I couldn't appreciate much malt in the nose because the hops streamrolled over everything in their path. It smelled primarily of citrus fruit, especially lemon and brown-sugar covered grapefruit (Cascade and Columbus?) (edited: Columbus and Chinook as it turns out).

The flavor and degree of hopping made me think more DIPA than IPA, but the body and ABV, thanks to Iowa law, fall short. It's hard to classify this beer as an 'Imperial' anything on that basis. The color and flavor easily allow it to make a valid claim on IRA-hood however.

The flavor profile was a reflection of everything that I love about DIPAs. It was intensely hoppy with elements of orange zest and grapefruit pith as well as spruce. There was also a moderate malt structure that provided significant flavor notes of heavily-toasted caramel and butterscotch. It was sweet without being cloying and the finish was lastingly bitter and ultra clean.

The mouthfeel was medium in heft (in comparison to the IPA style) and even though the carbonation was generous, it was buried deep within the beer and didn't annoy my tongue. I wouldn't go so far as to call it creamy, but it was uber-smooth and was scarily drinkable.

Merry Prankster Imperial Red Ale is, by a very long shot, the best beer that I've ever had at my local Rock Bottom. Or at any other brewpub in Des Moines for that matter. I'm not sure if the Imperial Red Ale classification will be taken seriously, but believe me, it works in this particular case.

The multicolored court jester on the sign behind the bar would make a great label and I rather like the name too. Too bad that Merry Prankster won't be bottled because I'd love for all of you out in BA-land to enjoy it as well.

Jul 22, 2004
Merry Prankster Imperial Red Ale from Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Beer rating: 3.69 out of 5 with 3 ratings