Road Jam Raspberry Wheat Ale
Six pack, $12 or so, 5% ABV
Purchased at Maximum Beverage, West Hartford
Argh, Two Roads. You guys kill me. So much money, so much potential, so much promise, so much capacity, so much history, so much label art, so much marketing skills, so much excitement… so little to show for all of that. Why? I don’t want it to be this way! I want to be friends with you!
(Unfortunately, since I’m very aware of how aware they are of social media mentions and scuttlebutt, I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be my friend. And that sort of bums me out, because I love so much about them – the way they incorporate local history, the way they contract brew some incredibly well-regarded beers, the passion of head brewer Phil Markowski, etc. I’m not a bad person. And I’m sure everyone at Two Roads is perfectly lovely. It’s just… it’s just that the whole reason you exist, Two Roads, is to make great beer. And that’s where we have differing opinions.)
Although, my experience with Road Jam was sort of interesting. Halfway through my first bottle, I hated it. Not drain pour hate, or making me sick hate – just sort of, “why did they make this beer and put it on the shelves before they finished it” hate. But I drank it – fast. And then had another. And I don’t know why.
Two Roads says:
Made with a melange or real black raspberries and red raspberries for a stunning red color, pungent berry aroma and accented with a kiss of lemongrass.
It’s a wheat beer. Therefore it’s not going to have the depth of flavor so many highly regarded beers do in 2014. No hop profile, no malty richness. Just a wheat beer – fine. Wheat beers can be decent, even if they aren’t my favorite style.
I appreciate the “real” berries. The aroma on this effort is fantastic. Like, I wouldn’t mind if my bathroom had a scented candle that smelled like Road Jam.
Although, let’s be honest… “Hey Steve, your bathroom smells fantastic, what is that?”
“Oh, that’s Road Jam.”
“Dude. That sounds so gross. Who wants “jam” in their bathroom?”
Anyway, here’s my serving suggestion for Road Jam:
1. Chill the crap out of it. Like, as cold as you can make a beer without freezing it.
2. Acquire a cold that involves nasal congestion, to mute the sweetness.
3. Wait for the weather to warm above 90 degrees.
4. Invite a bunch of 24-year-olds to drink it with you. They’ll love it, especially if they drink all that flavored vodka crap on the market today.
The beer is too sweet. It tastes like cheap soda, even if real berries were used. On the plus side, you can drink it like it’s cheap soda – it has that quality to it.
Perhaps a better description is a cheap adjunct like Coors Light with a bunch of sugar and berry flavoring. Now you get my tips for enjoying it. Or… remember the Long Trail Blackberry Wheat that we all loved for maybe one night out in the late 90’s? And then after two you were like, “holy crap, why do I have a headache and why am I seeing a tunnel of light?” Yeah, Road Jam is just like that, but lighter.
Or… Think of why you hate Hooker’s Watermelon – same problem here. (Unless you’re insane and love Hooker’s watermelon in which case, you’ll love Road Jam.)
Having said all that, this beer could have been a success. Lighten up on the fruit, and make the base wheat ale something richer. Perhaps some bittering hops to mute the berry punch in the face. I don’t know.
I’ve heard that Two Roads has tightened up their flagship IPA, which is great news. I’ll have to give it a revisit and if that’s true, then I will continue holding out hope for the crew in Stratford. After all, New England Brewing’s Sea Hag used to suck. (Yes, it’s true.) And now it’s a staple in my fridge.
Tone down the sugar and beef up the bitter and Road Jam could become a true road jam.
Overall Rating: D+
Rating vs. Similar style: D