I was buying a bottle of this year's impossible-to-find Kentucky Breakfast Stout at Armanetti's Beverages and ran squarely into a store policy that required me to buy multiple bottles (based on the purchase price minimum) if I was paying with a credit card. I decided to purchase a single bottle of Baird Brewing Rising Sun Pale Ale as a tribute to Japan's recovery effort from the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. Baird hails from Numazu, Japan and claims to brew their beers at the "foot of Mt. Fuji." This pale ale is quite unique. I gave it a pour last night.
Pale ales usually bore me. They all have the same low gravity, economical bitterness that offers subtle malting and the same barely discernible citrus flavors. There are few standouts: Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale, Smuttynose Shoal's Pale Ale, which Shaun recently reviewed here, and a few others come to mind. Yet, every brewer that desires to offer a full compliment of brews does one. I find them to be food beers at best.
Baird has done something unusual with this. To begin with, it offers a MASSIVE head; there's serious carbonation going on here. It was as if someone had poured a German Doppelbock from a tap into a Munich stein. It took me 3 minutes to empty the contents into a tall English pint. Color-wise, it's darker than many pales, with a deep amber, almost chestnut hue. The taste is flatly bitter up front, but quickly rounds out into a creamier, rather effervescent floral and citrus flavor with a faint taste of a fruity yeast that's Belgian in nature. It finishes clean and dry as you would expect of a pale ale.
Sure, this would be dynamite with jerk wings but it's interesting enough to enjoy on it's own. At 5% it's easily sessionable. And there's this: it's sort of for a good cause.
4.0 of 5 stars.