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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Ska Pinstripe Red Ale

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 25, 2007 4:00PM

2007_04_botw17_1.gif2007_04_ska.jpgWe're going to close out "Ska Month" here at Chicagoist with a review of one of their flagship beers. Springtime is perfect for red ales, and we picked up a six-pack of Ska's Pinstripe Red Ale a couple weeks back at Warehouse Liquors in the South Loop for $8.99. A bit overpriced, but Warehouse is one of those liquor stores that's convenient, and their staff is knowledgeable, even if the cashier said that Pinstripe reminded him of "Killian's, only sweeter."

2007_04_botw17_2.jpgAny comparison to a Coors product usually results in Chicagoist giving a beer one strike against it. But if you're looking for a baseline comparison to a known beer, it's apt. Pinstripe is brewed with caramel malt and Liberty hops. As we decanted the beer, we noticed that it poured a deep amber in color. The head on this beer was thick but faded quickly, with sticky, clinging lacing on the glass. We noticed hints of grain and citrus to our nose as we transferred this from bottle to glass. The taste was a slightly sweet malt, although not as sweet as other red ales we favor, like Goose Island's Kilgubbin Red. The hops on this are very light, almost nondescript, which is what we expect from Liberty hops, which are some of your lighter hops used in brewing. The finish on this beer was also sweet, with notes of bright citrus on the back of the mouth, and a slight bitterness. Red ales are perfect pizza beers and, with Pinstripe, we paired it with a couple slices from Punky's Pizza and Pasta at 26th and Wallace. Their motto: "If your last pizza was funky, call Punky."

Overall, we were pleased with the selections we chose for "Ska Month." We weren't floored by any of them but didn't think any of them were terrible, either; oddly, we liked Pinstripe the best, with last week's Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter a close second. As we wrote in our initial post on Decadent Imperial IPA that kicked off "Ska Month", Colorado breweries tend to make beers with more balance between malt and hops. Maybe it's because of the altitude and they're already getting a "Rocky Mountain high." Colorado beers aren't the hop bombs we've grown accustomed to from drinking midwestern craft brews. We think they're still worth at least a try, subscribing to the philosophy that "variety is the spice of life." At the very least, all this Ska beer has us even more stoked for "DarkLord Day" at Three Floyd's this Saturday. We aren't finished with Ska by a long shot, with the Bully Nut Brown Ale and Steel Toe stout high on our list to sample. So find out for yourself about Ska at any of these locations and pick up a bottle of Ska Pinstripe red ale, Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."