Click for full size picture
Rate this beer
Ram Nutcracker Irish Red Ale
Written by Matt
My personal history with this Chicago brewpub chain started probably a decade ago when I was working for the same company I am now, but had a very different job. Back then I was driving around a white cargo van with an oversized company logo on the side, listening to the radio, shirt off (no A/C), smoking cigarettes and living the dream, sort of. Our company, a beverage concentrate and sauce manufacturer had the privilege of making the root beer syrup base for the Ram in Schaumburg, and I had the privilege of delivering it. This, by the way, meant unloading a van-full of 50lb boxes by hand and wheeling them in the brewery, past the huge vats and into the storage area. But I literally had nothing better to do, I enjoyed the work, and I got paid. Little did I know, that over a decade later I’d be running a department at that same company, negotiating and signing the deals that allowed us to procure the necessary items and ingredients needed to make such fine products as their root beer concentrate. Now it feels like I’m truly living the dream, eh, sort of I guess. Ask me again in 10 years ☺
With that wordy intro out of the way, onto the present. This Ram is 10 minutes from my house, they have decent food (rarely do I eat there), and they make good beer. But the best part about this place that I’m aware of so far, is the amazing value of their take-home beer, that is if you purchase it on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday. On those days growlers (a full half gallon) of beer are HALF PRICED. I walked out of there last Saturday morning with 2 growlers of 2 different beers for a whopping $11.76. I spare you the arithmetic, but that equates to $1.47/pint. Compared to your average craft beer 6 pack, this is a bit over half the cost. Like I’ve mentioned in a different review, I own a handful of RAM growlers, which is important because that keeps the cost low, otherwise you have to spend an extra couple of bucks to buy one. Needless to say, its become a bit of a personal treat, like an occasional splurge after payday.
Nutcracker is a seasonal beer and one I’d never heard of but tasted it and decided to buy it. It pours the color of reddish copper with a small head which reduces to a film quite quickly. It smells toasty- like a mild “Fat Tire” aroma, although not quite as toasted. Add some faint caramel notes, minimal hops to speak of, just toasted malt, smelling a bit bready and most importantly, appetizing.
First sip is dominated by the toasted aroma but excites me because 24 hours after opening this growler there is still plenty of crisp carbonation and life. The mouthfeel and body are mild, light almost- this is a crisp, clean tasting ale, refreshing yet flavorful. Can I just stop there? This beer is more malt than hops – nothing “hoppy” here about it but just right. I can tell the hops are there but the true characteristics of this Irish red are the balance of the darker malts that are not overused, and the hops that do not dominate. This is actually a much lighter colored Irish Red than I’ve had. The alcohol level is perfect, I’m guessing around 5%, enough to give this beer an all around good review. Nutcracker is seasonal and recommended for a flavorful, yet easy drinking, clean tasting, slightly toasty ale. Check the Ram out at one of their 3 Chicagoland locations.
Grade: B+Ram Nutcracker Irish Red Ale,