Welcome to Bottle Shots, where I drink some beer, wine, or liquor and tell you what I think of it, and if I think you should drink it or not. Easy enough, right? Let’s dive in!
This time we take a look at Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale
The Lowdown: This is a limited-edition offering from Lagunitas to celebrate 13 years of brewing. To be perfectly honest, I’ve heard a lot about Lagunitas over the years, but never actually got around to trying any of their beers. I know, I’m a bad person who should be forced to drink Smirnoff Ice the rest of his life. But hey, I’ve come around, so have mercy on me, merciless mob. They’re sold in 22 oz bottles (and at a pretty reasonable $3.99 where I bought it) through the end of August. ABV is 8.3% , but we’ll get more into that later.
The Whiff: Light and delicious hops on the nose, which I enjoy very much. There’s a tendency in a lot of craft beers I’ve had lately (I’m looking at you, Dogfish Head and Terrapin) to hop the everliving shit out of their beers, almost to the point of undrinkability. I like hops, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of people are taking that to extreme levels where it just overpowers the entire beer, and that’s a damn shame. I also get some kind of earthy, slightly floral, dirt-ish smells. This is something I also like. There’s just a visceral throwback to something in my youth, digging in the Georgia clay and pulling up earthworms when it rained that I really like. It’s not a main component of The Whiff on this beer, don’t get me wrong, but it’s enough to make me fondly remember good times being covered from head to toe in mud, and not caring about dirty clothes or fingernails or what Mom was going to think when I tried to come in the house looking like the damn Swamp Thing. And at the very end, when I take the biggest, longest snort…grape? I’m not an expert, people.
The Taste: The hops shine through more than they did on the nose, but thankfully they’re not so overpowering as to be overwhelming. In fact, I like this quite a bit. On some level, it’s very similar to one of my all-time favorite beers, Sweetwater 420*. Walking that fine line of light and easy to drink yet full-flavored and interesting enough that you’d never want to chug it because every sip is worth savoring. It’s somehow more full, there’s even more character than 420, the flavor is deeper…bigger somehow, with a crisp dry finish. If I was a beer nerd I’d totally be able to give you a better description than that, but this is all I’ve got. It’s super-smooth, you’d never guess that the alcohol content was 8.3%. There’s…well, pine I guess, like hiking through the woods and you’re not paying attention because you’re looking at your hot lady-friend’s shapely behind in front of you as you trudge along in complete and utter boredom (because nature is inherently lame) and in that hypnotic state you trip like a dumbass over some stupid root and fall face-first into crushed leaves and twigs and dirt and you just barely miss a pinecone smashing in your over-sized nose…but you take a big relieved breath before you pull yourself upright (and blame it all on a bear attack)…and that breath, that’s what you get in this beer.
Food Pairing: I really wish I’d had this when I went to Tasty China a month or two ago. Those hops and crisp bitter flavors could have cut right through the impossibly delicious and almost painfully hot Sichuan spices. Anything with hot and spicy flavors would be well-complemented by this beer. Really though…it doesn’t need food at all, it’s great all on its own.
Would You Drink it Again? Heck yeah. It’s a damn shame this is a limited release, because it could easily become one of my most frequently recommended beers. Hear that Lagunitas? Make this beer a year-round staple!
Would You Recommend it to Someone Else? You betcha. As long as someone is not a life-long Coors Light drinker, they’ll find something to enjoy about this beer. It’s a clear winner no matter what your preferences are.
Overall Score: 96
Like I said, it’s a limited edition through August, so if you’re interested, you’d better find it quick!