Roller Dam Red Ale | Great River Brewery

40 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Roller Dam Red AleRoller Dam Red Ale

Brewed by:
Great River Brewery
Iowa, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Delicious, malty ale with a hint of caramel and a peppery hop finish.

Added by dpnelson1978 on 07-24-2010

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 115
Photo of mikesgroove
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

light amber pours with a huge head of white that came up a full three fingers in height. Smooth settling left a good bit of side glass lace and a nice and even coating across the top of the glass. Interesting aroma as it started out with a nice and well rounded bready malt that seemed to slowly evolve into a grassy, herbal hop profile with a bit of a kick from the caramel. Did not seem to have a clear direction, but the taste made up for it nicely. Very smooth, nice caramel and malty tones that won me over with ease. Smooth even flavor, crisp, clean and well balanced. Smooth notes of grassy bittering hops coming in at the finish gave it a nice little drying effect and warmed it up. Very drinkable as it went down smooth and left me looking for more right away.

 769 characters

Photo of rundocrun
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beer at The Pit BBQ house in Iowa City. Great place with some great BBQ!

A - Appears a deep red-brown color with minimal head that faded quickly. No lacing on the glass.

S - Some slight hop aroma with toasted malty undertones.

T - After the initial sweetness, I get a surprising amount of chocolatey flavor! Must be using some high-quality chocolate malt to help color this beer? The chocolate notes linger from the middle to the finish and a slight, but pleasing hop bitterness strikes the back of the tongue toward the end of each sip.

M - Not too much to say here. Good carbonation, pretty average mouthfeel. Quite drinkable.

 641 characters

Photo of Schmittymack
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 16 oz can into that ol' trusty shaker glass. Poured a nice amber color with a very small whiteish head that quickly disapated. Aromas of malt, caramel, and something I can't quite put a finger on. Taste was sweet malt and caramel with no hop bitterness. Quite quaffable; I could do this one as a session beer and would definitely have this again on draft.

 367 characters

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great day today - found out a long time friend was the recipient of a Grammy Award and have piles of brews from across the country to sample. This one from excellent trader GraniteSkunk...Cheers mate!

The basics: No idea omn price and 5.4% ABV...decent enough!

Brilliant and clear red with and orange hue to it. Not much of a head, and not really any lacing. A tad too lightly carbonated for me...Mehh thus far apart from the color...

Nice aroma - I get some vanmilla and cinnamon/allspice among the caramel malt notes...Some very nice, sweet notes in here, and they are subtly mixed..Very nice...

Flavor is a mixed bag. Starts off sharp, tangy and vibrant. Very nice...A strange bitterness begins to pervade the flavor in the early middle, and this carries throughout the beer. Can't say as I like it none, neither...It's like the bitterness you get from Tonic water (aka quinine)...That bitterness really pervades the whole taste. There is a slight touch of sweetness to this brew, and it offsets some of the bitterness. Ultimately this beer could do with a slight modification to the recipie to take away some of the harsher qualities and accentuate the malt a tad more. As it is it's serviceable and somewaht unique, but not overly exciting.

What I like most: The beatiful color and unique flavor profile.

What I like least: The quinine-like bitterness.

Verdict: Good enough, but not great. Try it if it's cheap.

 1,423 characters

Photo of zoolou
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice looking red/orange color with a light beige head that sticks unevenly down the glass. The smell is a very pleasant sweet toffee aroma.
Taste is dominated by sweet malts, but there is an underlying bitter hoppiness that cuts the sweetness just enough.

This style is usually one of my least favorites, but I really enjoyed this beer. From the few beers I've had from Great River Brewery, I have had a good experience with every one of them, and am looking forward to their other offerings.

 494 characters

Photo of TheSarge
3.94/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours perfectly into my pint glass, for a dark ruby red colored brew and cleanly filtered. The head retains very well, and is off white in color.

The aroma is toffee and a hint of metallic hops.

Taste wise it shares much of the same qualities as the aroma, but has a sweet figgy finish.

Nice medium bodied brew, somewhat complex with a hint of a powdery dryness. A surprisingly warm finish for a brew with a lower ABV.

 421 characters

Photo of indiapaleale
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour - dark amber with some reddish hues indeed. A nice looking inch of off-white foam on top. It looks like its glued on there and isn't going anywhere. Clean and clear. This is looking pretty tasty.

Aroma - lots of cereal and grain aromas in the first whiff. A beer like this is definitely focused on the malts and not the hops. Slight hints of orange or lemon as well as bread dough and even cinnamon(?).

Taste - lots of sweetness on the tongue and on the palate, honey and caramel combine with a slightly fruity, almost strawberry-like flavor as well. This definitely has a strong focus on all things malty and I'm actually surprised its only 5.3%, it almost drinks like a stronger brew.

Overall - sweet and tasty. Not a bad brew and certainly one that a malt-head might enjoy. What I like about it is that its not cloying, overly sweet, like some red ales and it doesn't leave me looking for a water (or other beer as the case may be) chaser.

Would I buy more of it? - St. Patrick's Day is about 4 weeks away. Time to load up...

 1,042 characters

Photo of emmasdad
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received a can of this one last night from my friend Schmittymack. Thanks Dan. Had this one late Saturday afternoon, before dinner. Poured a nice amber color with a medium white head. Aromas of caramel malt and woody hops. Nicely balanced, medium bodied, with flavors of sweet malt, woody hops and caramel/toffee.

 313 characters

Photo of mdwalsh
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Ruddy Reddish brown with a thin tan head, ok but not great active carbonation, and the head goes away pretty quick. It's a bit dark, and not as bright as I would hope. Sort of lack-luster. 3.5

S: Mildly grainy and metallic, but not overwhelmingly so. A decent, mild hopping is present, but not a huge part of the character. Overall, it's interesting, but not crazy intriguing. Worth a try, not something I'll get regularly. 3.5

T: Again, sort of metallic, and not as robust or malty smooth as I would like. There is a bitter sharpness, but I think it comes from the grain and not any aggressive hoping. There's not a lot going on here, though it's starting to warm on me, but not great. 3.0

M: Again, it's thin, too thin for what I think it's should be, but a little refreshing as well. 3.0

D: Really quite drinkable, but simply nothing fantastic. 4

 856 characters

Photo of ballz50401
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First brew I've tried from Great River Brewery and I like the slogan on the can "We drink what we can and can what we drink." Poured from a 16oz. can into a Becker glass. No freshness info.

Appearance: Pours a reddish amber with an off white head that appears big after poured but quickly fades.

Smell: Nice little malt aroma of caramel and toast followed by a herbal/spice hop aroma.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Some light toasted caramel and biscuit along with some hop spiciness. Mouthfeel is meduim bodied with a nice dryness and balanced bitterness.

Drinkablility: Overall a well done Irish Red that fits the profile well.

 620 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Roller Dam Red Ale is named for Mississippi River Lock and Dam No. 15, which is the largest roller dam in the world and is just south of our brew house."

--can label

French burnt peanut orange with apricot borders and a cascading crown of golden ecru cream that has a wonderfully sticky texture. An attractive array of lace makes it to the glass in the end.

The aroma has a light caramel malt undertow and a balancing amount of Sterling hops. Not a humdinger, but it follows the style guidelines and makes no major (or even minor) missteps.

Roller Dam Red Ale is solid across the board. There are maltier Irish reds and hoppier Irish reds, but this one has a beautiful balance that should please most everyone. Actually, it's probably hoppier than most versions... which is accentuated by the freshness of the sample, no doubt.

Flavors follow aromas. Each sip delivers an enjoyable pale and caramel malt mix (favoring the latter), followed by a surprisingly zesty bite of herbal-spicy hops. Warming brings out a little more boldness, as it usually does.

The mouthfeel gets it done. It's right about where it should be in terms of size, hang-on and carbonation. Looks like these guys crossed all of their 'T's and dotted all of their 'I's during the design process and the brewing process.

Roller Dam Red Ale is dam(n) fine beer if you like red ales that have perfect malt-hop balance. The recent change in Iowa law allowing higher ABV beer to be brewed was great, but RDRA would've been possible back in the bad old days of 2008. Good job Great River. And keep 'em coming.

 1,580 characters

Photo of FreshHawk
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice tawny amber color with a slightly below average (really probably would consider average on second thought), foamy, sticky, off-white head. Average retention leaving a thin layer of lace.

S - A touch on the faint side but it gets stronger as it warms. Plenty of nice, sweet toffee aroma with some caramel as well. Nice malty, sweet aroma. A touch of fruitiness as well.

T - Typical Amber/Red flavors with plenty of toffee malt and some caramel. Some nutty flavors as well. Some golden raisin and apple also come out mid-sip. A slight mineral tang toward the finish. Sweet but not overly sweet or cloying.

M - Between medium and light body with average carbonation. Pretty slick and smooth. The sweetness adds a touch of a drying feel at the finish.

D - Pretty drinkable. Nice flavors that are sweet and malty, but don't come off as out of balance.

Notes: A nice, although fairly typical, Amber/Red ale. Plenty of toffee and nutty flavors with some caramel. Sweet maltiness, but nothing too overboard. Another good, not great, offering for the brewery. Great options for getting a canned beer and for introducing people to craft beer. Worth picking up and trying.

 1,175 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was first a gift from the brewers following the GTMW and then some more showed up in a trade. I love The CANQuest (TM)! CAN you dig it (and you know who I'm asking)?

Love the Crack & Glug! Beer as an auditory pleasure in addition to everything else. My pour netted just over a finger of light-tan head that burbled, bubbled, exploded with CO2 and phased itself out of existence. Red? Like a coppery amber with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a sweet, malty, raspberry-like quality. Mouthfeel was medium with a very sweet caramel taste on the tongue. Phew! I am not a fan of sweet beers, but anything in the interest of the quest. Finish was bittersweet with a light metallic tang. Bottom line for me was that it was simply too sweet for this self-avowed hophead to want to drink on a routine basis.

 801 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

High clarity crimson scarlet in the glass. Really nice coloration. A few fingers of light khaki foam builds to the rim and settles at about a half inch. Random flecks of lacing are left behind.

Toffee and brown sugar aroma, raisin and plum, clearly malt forward.

Rich maltiness, fruity raisin and plum again, possibly from the ale yeast. Drying aftertaste of molasses. Bready with Crystal malt caramel sweetness. Not all that bitter, though the can states 30 IBUs. Fairly big malt flavors, and light bodied, making for an easier session. Well made and full of flavor, still it could use a touch more hops to make it really great.

 633 characters

Photo of dpnelson1978
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can into SA "Perfect Pint"

5.99 / 4-pk.

3.5 - A: Deep bright copper body with a big tight rocky head of medium retention but only the slightest lacing and a thin cover.

4.5 - S: Raisin notes backing up a slightly sweet, but powerful malt nose. Not much hop aroma (30 IBU - listed on can).

3.5 - T: Slightly sweet malt backbone with just enough hop character to keep it balanced. Simple biscuit flavor profile, but a fantastic local alternative to any macro. Very accessible to any audience.

4.0 - M: Light body with medium to high carbonation that lends an unmistakable crispness.

4.5 - D: Very crisp drinkable beer. Wonderful session qualities without a watered down flavor. Moderate residual bitter aftertaste but plenty of residual enjoyment.

3.85 - O: I'm glad I stumbled upon this beer in desporation while out of town on business. I'll be sure to be on the lookout for other offerings the next time around.

 947 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Roller Dam Red Ale from Great River Brewery
3.65 out of 5 based on 115 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.