About a month ago I wrote an article about the release of Fire Island’s Red Wagon IPA.
In an email to the brewers, I playfully hinted that I wanted to taste the beer — but living on the West Coast made it logistically impossible to acquire it.
Well kids, I’ve learned that sometimes if you ask (very very nicely), you shall receive. Within about a week of writing my article and emailing my request, a sample of Fire Island Red Wagon IPA showed up on my door step. Unfortunately for all the parties involved, it was just days before my trip to San Diego Beer Week. And so in order to give it the love and attention it deserved, I put tasting the Red Wagon IPA on the back burner until I returned.
Unforeseen travel and events forced me to put it on the back burner longer than I intended, for which I owe the brewers a BIG apology.
But alas, the time has come. And I’m extremely excited for this moment.
For those of you who are too lazy to read my previous article, Fire Island Beer Company is brand new “up-and-coming” brewery located in “The Other New York” — aka “The Anti-City.” I’m ashamed to admit that, even as a native New Yorker, I’d never heard of the place known as Fire Island until the brewery came about.
Today, Fire Island is considered by many as one of the chicest places to have a beach house. It remains popular among artists, actors, musicians, and the ultra-rich. Fire Island has never succumb to the same commercialism and class distinctions that haunts the Hampton’s. It is COMPLETELY car-free and the only automobiles allowed on Fire Island are service and emergency vehicles.
No restaurants on the island have a dress code. No shoes? No shirts? On Fire Island? No problem!
Fire Island Lighthouse near Sunset by Jim Dohms
Fire Island Beer Company was founded by two beer loving brothers –Tom and Bert Fernandez– along with their beer loving cousin, Jeff Glassman. Growing up, the boys spent a significant amount of their summer vacations on Fire Island. It was here that boys developed their love of beer and Tom discovered his affinity for brewing.
Entrepreneurial spirit eventually led to boys to run “The Shack” — a landmark institution and concession bar located on Atlantique Beach, Fire Island. The boys first started selling Tom’s different types of homebrews to friends and family at “The Shack.” The popularity of the local brewed beer ultimately inspired the trio to create Fire Island Beer Company.
Fire Island Beer Company released its first beer, the Lighthouse Ale, in May of 2009. It’s second beer, Red Wagon IPA, was just released this October (2009). The recipes for both beers were inspired by the easygoing, laid-back & unpretentious vibe of Fire Island. Fire Island Lighthouse Ale is based off a recipe Tom has been brewing for almost ten years. It is a favorite among the boys.
“Fire Island is known for being easygoing with a lot of character, so Lighthouse Ale has been crafted the exact same way.”
For more on why Fire Island Lighthouse Ale is the “kind of beer you want to have a beer with”, check out this video:
Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to taste the Lighthouse Ale. But that is neither here nor there. I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to sample the Red Wagon IPA, despite my non-geographical proximity to Fire Island — or the East Coast for that matter.
THE BEER WENCH’S TASTING NOTES
FIRE ISLAND RED WAGON IPA
BACK LABEL: After work, I’ll occasionally stay in the city and go out with co-workers. The first hour I noticed is usually filled with Red Wagon IPAs and also conversations about work. If the second hour is more of the latter, I’ll usually ninja out of the bar and catch the ferry back to Fire Island. It’s not that I’m not having fun with everyone. It’s just those nights remind me to never work so hard that I forget what I’m working for.
- APPEARANCE: The beer pours a cloudy, amber color with a fluffy, meringue-like off white head. Head dissipates quickly, leaving a nice thick lacing on the sides of the glass.
- AROMA: Citrus & floral hops aroma w/ notes of earth and spice. Slight hints of caramel malt. Moderate fruity esters.
- TASTE: Hops dominate the palate. Hop profile starts out citrusy and fruity, yet finishes earthy and bitter. Nice malt backbone that yields a slight caramel sweetness.
- MOUTHFEEL: Medium-bodied, medium-carbonation, smooth mouthfeel. Undetectable alcohol — the label does not specifiy the ABV, but I’d reckon it was around 6%. Dry, crisp finish. Very well attenuated and pleasantly drinkable.
- OVERALL: The Fire Island boys consider themselves to be “brewers of world-class beers that are inspired by the color, character and overall experience of Fire Island.” Well, if Red Wagon IPA is the essence of Fire Island — then I need to take a trip out there! In my opinion, the Red Wagon IPA is very well-balanced with a complex palate of different hop varietals. Despite my usual preference for IPAs brewed with the super piney, resiny and citrusy hops of the Pacific Northwest, I found the earthy & spicy hop profile of Red Wagon IPA to be extremely enjoyable. This is a an easygoing IPA that can be easily consumed in all sorts of situation. It would pair well with spicy & fried foods, yet is delicate enough for salads and seafood. I could easily picture myself taking Red Wagon IPA to the beach, kicking off my shoes, laying back and taking in the scenery. Perhaps one day, I will get such a chance — and I hope its on Fire Island.
FTC DISCLAIMER: I received the aforementioned bottle of beer as a gift from Fire Island Beer Company.