Red Tail Ale | Mendocino Brewing Company

481 Reviews
Red Tail AleRed Tail Ale

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: American Amber / Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2000

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 481 | Ratings: 959
Photo of MikeG304
3.59/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My local beer shop was having a special since this is a local brewery. If you brought in a printed review of the shop from BA you got a growler fill of Red Tail for a buck. hard to pass that up.
Anyway, first off I like the color. I'm a fan of porters and stouts but I like the looks of a nice amber color in a beer. My first pour from the growler was a nice copper/ amber color with 1 1/2 to 2 fingers of a creamy head and a good amount of lacing.
I don't really pick up anything except a slight malty aroma on the nose.
The same with the taste, although it does have a little hoppiness to it, but not overly so. Nothing really jumps out at me.
pretty smooth mouthfeel.
Overall, not bad for a buck. I really like the color. The taste is not a standout but not bad.

 768 characters

Photo of supergo
3.66/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The first time I had any beer from Mendocino was when I went to their brewery in Saratoga. I tried many of the beers they had on tap but this one stood out from the rest. It had a good clean taste with lots of bite. Not overpowering like some Red Ales can get. They tend to get a little sweet almost like wine. This ale however had a fresh taste, clean after taste and smooth texture.

 384 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.03/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beer of the mont club. Pours clear reddish orange with very small white head. Aroma of cherries, malt, spice, yeast. Meh. Taste is sweet up front with some honey flavor. Cant put my finger on the flavors here. Malt extract? Not bad, I guess, but would not seek out on my own. Medium carbonation with a mediocre mouthfeel. Goes down easy enough, but won't have it again.

 369 characters

Photo of Hendry
3.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

clear as a bell copper,one finger of white head disappears quickly,no apparent lacing.

Malt & yeast,hops nonexistenet in the aroma.

Flavor is the same, a one note bland malty flavor

Mouthfeel is light,thin,not much going on here but not objectionable.

Worth trying a single once,not great,not horrible.

 306 characters

Photo of Aaron_Ramson
3.95/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very unique and flavorful beer; sort of a hoppy red with a roasted, malty backbone and tons of yeast character. While it's something I would definitely drink again, it's not a perfect 'anytime' beer or even a special occasion brew. It's good for those times you want something just a little heavier than your standard pale ale. It does however, have that special "wow factor" that makes a beer noteworthy, and for that I recommend it.

 434 characters

Photo of Axnjxn
3.11/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Duck-Rabbit pint glass. no bottling date.

Pours a cloudy copper color with a half inch thick white head. On the nose i dont get much. Perhaps a very faint malt aroma, but that's it. The taste is a tad better, with a nice malt backbone. its got a slight bitterness, but is not very flavorful. Decent. Body is medium and a bit heavier than i was expecting. Should be lighter.

Overall nothing at all special or remarkable about this one. It's average across the board. I wouldn't seek it out.

 511 characters

Photo of JMScowcroft
3.57/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Mendocino Brewing Company - Red Tail Ale

Look - Pours a slightly hazy golden brown with a small one finger soapy head and lots of sticky lacing.

Smell - Yeasty tang that is evident in most lagers, nothing special.

Taste - One dimensional lager with a tinny metallic tinge in it.

Mouthfeel - Fades fast but leaves aluminum and bitter grassy hop behind. Pretty drinkable, not boozy at all.

Overall - Decent, not really outstanding in any way. A solid brew maybe if you paired with specific food, but I wouldn't pick it. That's two "award winning" brews from this brewery that I thought were not deserving of any kind of awards.

 630 characters

Photo of da_beers
3.51/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a very nice orangish copper with two fingers of white head. Great carbonation coming up. Appearance was its strong suit.

S - Smells a classic lager, nothing jumps out besides the yeast.

T - Quite flat on the palate. Nothing comes out at me. Slightly bitter at end with faintest grassy/hoppyness.

M - Drinkable for sure, good carbonation, smooth on palate.

O - Good, I would drink again, but not seek out.

 418 characters

Photo of silverking
3.96/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- It pours a deep amber with a fluffy off white head. Retention is very nice, But the lacing is a little lacking.

S- Malty, bready, caramel, citrusy.

T- Toasty, bready. There is a nice hop presence, but it isn't overpowering. The finish is Dry, with some light notes of citrusy hops. There is only a very light bitterness detectable.

M- Light bodied, crisp, refreshing. Carbonation is light, but it's a bit prickly.

O- Very nice Interpretation of the style, very balanced.

 477 characters

Photo of TheMarkE
3.81/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Attractive amber with a generous head of foam and excellent lacing.

Smell: Caramel and citrus, apple and spice.

Taste: Caramel malts with plenty of spicy hops. Good balance between sweet and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slight bitter aftertaste that fades quickly.

The Verdict: Not bad. A solid amber/red ale with good balance and near-perfect appearance. I wouldn’t have any problem picking up a six pack on the way home.

 445 characters

Photo of kneeland
3.51/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is what beer tastes like, or at least what it's supposed to taste like. A good hearty ale with no filler. It's not watered down, it's not artificial tasting, it just does what an ale is supposed to do.

I don't want to oversell it, because I'm not in love with it. It just has a classic taste. The smell is lacking, and there's an aftertaste that I'm not enjoying. The head started out nice and foamy, but fades away to just a thin lace, but with good carbonation.

 469 characters

Photo of AAG
2.98/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a cold bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance - Looks absolutely beautiful; nice, golden-brown in color; poured about 3 fingers worth of head; dissipated pretty quickly but still clustered nicely on the rim; great looking amber/red ale.

Smell - Sweet, refreshing, fruity, orange-peel.

Taste - Underwhelming; after such a beautiful pour and a refreshing, fruity smell, I was underwhelmed by this dry american amber / red ale; very dry, uninteresting; not much to write home about.

Mouthfeel - Average; slightly carbonated; not the best aftertaste.

Overall - After such a tremendous start (the appearance of the golden-brown ale and the wonderful smell), I was unimpressed when I tasted it. It's dry, simple, and underwhelming. Personally, I wouldn't seek this beer out.

 783 characters

Photo of horshack7
3.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: With a light foamy white head around a finger thick underneath that is a clear amber.

Aroma: Faint spice, caramel malts, apple, floral and citrus hop with a light dryness.

Taste: A little bit of a crisp mouthfeel but it does smooth out. Caramel malts, floral hop dryness, small amounts of spice and apple. Biscuity notes in the tail end

Notes: Nicely drinkable with a good malt backbone and finish. Cheers.

 421 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.75/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I remember drinking this beer on a trip to California in the mid 80s. I also remember thinking at the time that it was a really good beer. This present version I'm not so sure of.

In a snifter the beer was a light amber color with a tiny white head.

It had a grassy, flowery hop profile, with some caramel.

I liked the taste more than I thought I would, based on the aroma. A sweet caramel taste gave way to the grassy hops.

A nice enough beer. I just thought I would like it more than I actually did.

 505 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.45/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic glass.

A: Slightly hazy, light amber color with over one finger of parchment-tinted foam head. Moderate lacing remains on the glass.

S: Caramel and yeast esters are potent, while earthy hops are weak to nuanced at best.

T: Begins dry, with refined and slightly nutty crystal malt that takes on a metallic edge as carbonic acidity rises into the middle. Some chile fruit emerges mid-profile, tasting green but not spicy. Flavors are underwhelming in the finish; mildly bitter, earthy, and retaining some of the metal.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, wet and slightly slippery on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This beer is an icon of American craft brewing, a holdover from a time when amber ales were considered progressive. It embraces its English heritage with some acuity, demonstrated mainly in the hearty smell. It is no Ballast Point Calico amber--the beer that exemplifies this underwhelming style better than practically any other--but it retains some enduring appeal in its traditional qualities.

 1,061 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.47/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle from a mixed case poured into a pint glass. Pours a medium copper though surely not amber in color with a touch of haze. Half inch cap offers standard retention and lace.

Aroma is light with a touch of caramel and some lightly citric hops. Flavor is similar to the pour with some pale malts and a light dose of caramel. Surprisingly light in color and sweetness than I recall on tap though it's been a few years. Still this comes across as a different animal all together and closer now to a pale ale than an amber.

Feel and finish toe the line as well with a biscuity feel and a lingering though subtle caramel presence. Overall more enjoyable than the cloyingly sweet beverage I seem to recall, yet a bit of a stretch for an Amber and simply called an 'Ale' on the label..

 790 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.45/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served in a snifter.
Murky and dark for style; plenty red for a amber/red ale but not as red as I expected in a "Red Tail". This amber ale is slightly more rich, earthy and flavorful than the average amber. It has good sweet/bitter balance and a fine medium+ body. Carbonation is a tad low.

O = 3.75

 314 characters

Photo of Hopfenpeter
3.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is a clear amber, with a half a finger of white bubbly head. It dissipates fast leaving good lacing.
The smell is of malt, bread, caramel , some hop.
Tasting the beer, there is a good fruity hop flavor up front. The middle is dominated by bread and malt flavors. The finish is a balanced hop.
Nice drinkable medium bodied beer.

 337 characters

Photo of tkelley
3.48/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a SA Perfect Pint. Bottle is from a mixed pack bought at the brewery in Saratoga.

A - nice orange lightly hazy body. Good carbonation visible. Thin white head.

N - hops and a good strong caramel scent upfront. Biscuity malt after that.

T - hops first, then caramel malt, then hops again on the finish. Has a fruity, apply taste as well.

M - good mouthfeel. Not too bubbly but a little chewy.

O - solid effort. Very drinkable beer with good balance. Cheers.

 486 characters

Photo of jkrich
4/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from an undated 12 oz. bottle: clear and bright amber-brown with golden highlights.

Very strong sweet, perfumy and syrupy aromas with faint hints of fruit.

This is a largely malt-accented amber with nice touch of hops to keep it refreshing. The malt is rather thick in mouth with hints of molasses and butterscotch. There is a pleasant aftertaste of hops that keeps this one from becoming cloying.

The moderate carbonation gives the ale some needed zest. The body is fuller than I expected with a somewhat thick mouthfeel.

I am surprised by some of the low rating here. Yes, this is one of the old microbrews, but it remains a very solid amber ale.

 659 characters

Photo of spicelab
2.81/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle thanks to Beermasons.

Stained glass orange with a respectable cream-coloured head that slowly collapses in on itself while leaving a sticky lace curtain. Slow looking bead.

Nose is toffee and bready malts blending with sweet citrus, yielding some nice candied notes, especially mandarin. Pretty light and orthodox but nothing to fault.

Surprisingly, the malts don't hold up particularly well, and it all falls largely into a metallic stale hop bitterness that quickly becomes annoying with so little to give it purpose.

Pretty insipid mouthfeel for a 6.1% Red Ale really. Have had other examples with twice as much heft at the same ABV.

Okay and reasonably drinkable, but totally unremarkable, which in an increasingly crowded and competitive market looks negligent. Can't help thinking these guys were one of the first kids on the US craft block and are now being left in the dust.

 899 characters

Photo of elNopalero
3.38/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a clear, light amber-golden color with a light ring of foam atop it.

There’s a mild, mellow aroma, with a little bit of orange chutney hanging around the edges.

The flavor has a mild bitterness with a sharp, rough end around the finish. I get some bitter orangey hop flavors as well as an off-putting taste that I can’t quite place. It’s off… but not in the ‘bad batch’ sense. Perhaps it’s an old bottle? This beer failed to excite.

 460 characters

Photo of TheRealBigC
3.28/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a decent, if run-of-the-mill amber ale. For a time it was one of the better drafts at a local pub which isn't saying much but I've had it a few times as a result. There is a notable hop presence, nothing too pungent, and a fair balance overall, but afterward you won't remember too much of it.

 301 characters

Photo of Brewmaster_Rick
4.22/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very nostalgic beer for many people. Thinner body, excellent caramel malt character with a mild front-of-the-tongue hop spice to balance it out. Very floral. Would compliment a hearty steak or a day at the beach. A classic, and a staple in the American craft brewing renaissance.

 281 characters

Photo of Fatehunter
3.19/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass. Little to no head, a cloudy copper color.

Smells of orange, lemon zest, and a little barley.

A good bitterness, moves to a sweeter malt but not SWEET. Ends with a grapefruit flavor that holds on.

Crisp and medium body with moderate carbonation.

A nice drinking and enjoyable beer.

 310 characters

Red Tail Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
3.45 out of 5 based on 959 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.