I haven't solicited you for your favorites lately, but a long holiday weekend seems like an ideal opportunity to get some opinions flying. The purpose behind these open threads is to find examples in a style I may not know about for possible inclusion in a book I'm working on. (Those of you outside the Northwest become precious resources.) I want to use beers that enjoy at least a regional distribution, mostly bottled examples, and those which are enduring standards and likely to still be sold by the time the book comes out (probably 2013).
American ambers and reds are often collapsed into a single style. Personally, I think this is a mistake. Fifteen years ago, reds were vanishingly rare and ambers were quite popular. The ambers of those days are the ones we still have around--mid-alcohol riffs on strong bitter with a balance point headed toward the malty, but with all that American hop goodness you expect from an American ale. Reds of the day were similar--except maybe they tilted more toward Munich instead of caramel malt. If you look at the top reds now, you see that they've strayed pretty far from the original mark. Now most are more similar to IPAs and double IPAs, though with a different malt base. Reds are less complex, with just a bit of candy sweetness to balance the assault of hops. (At the blogger conference, two of the beers that really impressed me were reds--Cigar City's cedary Tocobaga and Hopworks Imperial Red.)
Of course, you're invited to dispute this thesis, too. I'd be interested to hear your views, especially as they are backed up by examples--examples I can track down and maybe use for the book. The past editions of these open threads have been really valuable--for each style you've directed me to at least a couple beers that will go in the book. So consider this my advance thanks.
I'll be out of town and away from computers through Labor Day, so see you Tuesday--