4/24/23: New Holland Brewing's Dragon's Milk Crimson Keep

9:37 AM

New Holland's doing a little something in that state up north. Dragon's Milk has long been a celebration of stout, barrel-aging, and (for the really good stuff) adjuncts. Yet, the brewery's been taking small steps away from that. It started with Solera (which I've yet to try). Dragon's Share was next. (I guess you could say Dragon's Milk White was the actual first step here, but it's still labeled as a stout which is why I'm not officially mentioning it; it's only here, in this typed aside.)

A bottle of Dragon's Milk Crimson Keep

Today, I'm trying the next advance in this stoutless line: Dragon's Milk Crimson Keep. Let's see how this bourbon barrel-aged red ale stands against the rest of the noble lineage.

Dragon's Milk is a staple of the blog (although I've never discussed the base beer); just hit up the search bar to see. New Holland's also been a regular around these parts. For the uninitiated, allow me to share a little of what you can glean from their "Our Journey" page: Brett VanderKamp started Holland, MI's premier brewery back in '97. They've only grown since, from adding new locations to distilling and making one of the most renowned (at least in my neck of the woods) BA stouts.

Speaking of renowned BA stouts, Crimson Keep isn't one. It's still a barrel-aged beer, but it's a red ale. It's hefty (boasting an ABV of 11%--thank you, bourbon barrels), and is described as having "A smooth, malt-forward flavor profile is highlighted by notes of toffee, stone fruits, and oak that lead to a pleasantly dry finish."

I can't say I'm finding any stone fruits on the ale's bouquet. Instead, I'm finding red wine grapes and berry jam. That malt-forward ideology's here--this is a malty nose. There's also those good bourbon barrel notes (oak and vanilla), mingling with candied sugars, cola, and honey. Surprisingly, I'm not picking up on much booze. Truthfully, this bouquet is fantastic. Purrl, at twelve whiffs, thinks so, too.

Cat Purrl sniffing an open bottle of Crimson Keep

The flavor profile boasts big notes of honey, caramel, toffee, those bourbon qualities I mentioned above, and a little bit of that jam from the nose that carries through here. Another aspect that carries into the flavor profile is the lack of booze. This is an 11% beer, but there's no alcohol wallop to denote that. I'm a little worried that it'll all hit me at once when my bottle's empty.

The mouthfeel on this thing's invigorating. It's lightly carbed. It drinks like an ale. There's a sizeable head in my bottle (you bet I didn't pour this into a glass!). Really, Crimson Keep's the most refreshing 11% ABV beer I've ever had.

A thick head of bubbles in a bottle of Crimson Keep

Look, I don't want to talk about kites two posts in a row, but here we are. This ale's like a bright, breezy spring day. The wind's blowing petals off trees. Just a great day to fly a kite.

I'm giving New Holland's Dragon's Milk Crimson Keep a 9.0/10. This is a killer BBA red ale and definitely something you ought to experience. I'm happy to report that that alcohol content hasn't hit me all at once here at the end of the post.

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