Craft Journey with Red Ales by McGill's, Wicklow Wolf and Killarney Brewing.
Is Red Ale really an Irish style? In the 1970s, famous beer writer Michael Jackson was credited with giving the tag to Smithwicks. According to World Atlas of Beer, American beer competitions started awarding prizes for the category and smaller Irish breweries started to “launch highly-hopped higher strength or even barrel-aged versions”.
Wikipedia says Irish red ale, also known as red ale or Irish ale, is a style of pale ale that is brewed using a moderate amount of kilned malts and roasted barley that gives the beer its red colour.
McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale 5.0% ABV, 500ml bottle Centra Waterville
Red is the colour, for sure, of McGill’s Maude Delap Irish Red Ale, red with a soft tan head. After that, it is mostly about the lovely caramel flavours, just about perfect, neither too strong nor too weak. Nice job, Mr McGill!
Very Highly Recommended.
This traditional Irish Red Ale is named in honour of Maude Delap. Originally from Donegal, Maude came to live on Valentia Island (until her death in 1953). A self-taught marine biologist, she was known for being the first person to breed jellyfish in captivity and thus observed their full life cycle for the first time. She was also involved in an extensive study of plankton from the coasts of the island. More on Maude here .
Wicklow Wolf Wildfire Hoppy Red Ale, 4.6% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys
“Not your typical red – Wildfire is a modern hoppy red ale.” That’s the claim from brewers Wicklow Wolf.
Appearances seem to be in the classic mould, fairly deep red body and an off-white head.
Malt plus a sniff of coffee and caramel in the aromatics and the same combo, with a stronger showing from the coffee, on the palate. Here too, the Sorachi Ace hops also figure, rather mildly though. A creamy, herbal finish with hints of malty sweetness. Not quite traditional then. Not sure though that it is an improvement on the old style. Perhaps a summer rather than a winter red.
Indeed, “mild” is perhaps the most apt descriptor, though not in a pejorative manner. Touted as a modern red ale, I’m well pleased with it (nothing to do with its modernity or otherwise) and would love to try it in a direct joust with other reds like Roaring Ruby (from West Cork Brewing), Kinnegar’s Devil’s Backbone, Copper Coast (from Dungarvan Brewing), Sullivan’s Maltings, White Gypsy’s Ruby Red, Costello’s Red Ale and more (including Velvet Red by the Cotton Ball and the others in this post). Could be a long session. And I’d need food as well!
Hops: Sorachi Ace
Malts: Pale, Cara Ruby, Melano, Oats, Roasted, Crystal Rye
The Wicklow Wolf craft brewery was co-founded by Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014. The location then was in Bray. Now, in the new facility, near NewtownmountKennedy, there is a team of five brewers working under two ex Brewdog employees, John the production manager, and head brewer Andrew. The total number employed is 27. More on our recent visit here.
Killarney Rutting Irish Red Ale, 4.5% ABV, 440ml can, Carry Out Killarney
This Irish Red Ale from Kerry ”pays homage to Ireland’s last herd of native red deer. Each autumn, during a ritual known as The Rut their clashing antlers and bellowing roars echo through the majestic amphitheatre that is the Killarney National Park” say the producers. One such spectacular duel, at the waters’ edge, was brilliantly captured by the David Attenborough series Wild Isles and shown a few months back on the BBC.
The beer, based on the traditional Golding’s hops, has a ruby hued colour, and aromas of caramel and toffee. And that malty combo continues on to the palate, pleasing, lively and refreshing. Should be good with food, as most red ales are.
The website says that “discerning beer drinkers will appreciate Rutting Red’s rugged flavour which values the intensity of our wild stags.” I can understand the writer’s enthusiasm but rugged is not a word I’d associate with this pretty fine and well-made beer. I’d be thinking more of the friendly red setter (supple, restrained and eager to please) like the dog that greets guests in Kerry’s Sneem Hotel.