Showing posts with label Red Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red Ale. Show all posts

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #52. On the craft journey with Amber & Red Ales.

A Quart of Ale± #52

On the craft journey with Amber & Red Ales. 

Do you know your amber from your red?

This may help. Then again it may not!

"Amber ale is an emerging term used in Australia, France and North America for pale ales brewed with a proportion of amber malt and sometimes crystal malt to produce an amber colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown. A small amount of crystal or other coloured malt is added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales.In France the term "ambrée" is used to signify a beer, either cold or warm fermented, which is amber in colour; the beer, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber, may be a Vienna lager, or it may be a Bière de Garde as in Jenlain Ambrée. In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, although very few examples are particularly hoppy. Diacetyl is barely perceived or absent in an amber ale." Source: Wikipedia

Brú Red Ale, 4.2%, 330ml can Bradleys

It’s a red ale and it is red with a pillowy off-white, coffee dusted head that shrinks as you drink. Toffee and caramel in the aromas. And that continues onto the palate, impressive entry as the malt and the hops each get a share of the limelight as the pleasant experience continues. 

They say: An aromatic red ale for today’s drinker…BRÚ Red Ale is a sophisticated and modern beer.

They also say: Mirroring the unwavering strength of Celtic figure Cuchulainn, the red ale is a mighty example of the traditional Irish style.

Well, modern or traditional, it certainly is mighty!

They say: Alongside our own range of craft beers, we also showcase the best of Ireland’s exciting drinks industry, working closely with high quality Irish breweries, distillers and cider makers. We champion local ingredients and modern Irish fare across all sites and our staff are knowledgeable and passionate about Irish produce. Each of our venues has a distinct personality but all are committed to providing a proper Céad Mile Fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes. In short, you can expect good beergood food and good company at every BRÚ Hospitality site.

Porterhouse Red Irish Ale, 4.2%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

Red, not surprisingly (they use Crystal Malt), is the colour of this Porterhouse ale and there is a light coffee coloured head, a soft frothy one that hangs about a bit. There’s a tarty streak in the fruity palate and also a decent hint of the malt. I liked this really well-balanced effort a few months back and am just as impressed this time. Excellent from start to finish.

They say: Irish red ales? Yes, we know. Sweet, a bit cloying and, well, no thanks. So, it was brave of us (we say bravely) to put the words “red ale” after our own moniker. Why the hell would we do that? Because this is a real red ale, ….But sweet? No way. Balanced, yes. Fresh, yes. Aromatic, yes. In fact, we say yes, please.

Geeky Bits

Malts: Pale Ale Malt, Crystal Malt, Wheat Malt, Black Malt

Hops: Galena (US, fruity), Nugget US, (bittering) , East Kent Goldings (UK, aromatic)

ABV: 4.2%

 IBUs: 33

Kinnegar Devil’s Backbone Amber Ale 4.9%, 440ml can Ardkeen QFS 

Amber’s the colour for sure, a dark amber at that, lots of fizz in the haze. First sip introduces you to its chocolate/caramel backbone and you realise this is a serious drink, pretty robust too, a full-bodied drink you can’t ignore. Dark fruit flavours on the palate, a very satisfying bitterness as well (hops are a mix of European and American) and then there’s a lip-smacking dry finish to boot. Kind of Beamish light with a Guinness bite.

I was wondering, at first, does this belong with the red ales. Seen this classed as pale ale but a better fit in red. Kinnegar themselves confirm it as “A refreshing contemporary take on a traditional Irish Red. Versatile with food and equally enjoyable on its own.” And more good news: Devil’s Backbone is available all year round. 

Dead Centre “Sham Maths” Amber Ale, 6.2%, 440ml via 

Dead Centre’s well-made well-balanced Amber Ale has, you’ve guessed it, an amber colour (Crystal Malt again!) with a nice soft head. Quite a delicious harmony, with toffee and caramel playing the lead, follows on the palate, and that pleasant balance is further enhanced by a judicious use of bittering hops. By the way, you don’t get too many Ambers (or Reds) at 6.2 abv

Athlone’s Dead Centre is Westmeath’s first and only craft brewery. They say: We’re big fans of Amber Ale at Dead Centre Brewing, so when we decided to make a hoppy American Amber…we wanted to do it right…and that’s exactly what we did! A marriage of Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Chocolate Malt and Crystal Malt combine to form a beautifully full and sweet foundation for this deep copper ale that pours with a smooth, firm head. Simcoe and Centennial are the stars of the show on the hops front. Clocking in at 6.2%, Sham Maths is the perfect step up from our core IPA, Marooned.

Dead Centre Brewing may be found on Custume Quay in Athlone. It offers, outside of Covid restrictions, a combined experience including brewery tour, beer tasting and pizza. Now there’s a combination that’s hard to resist.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #41. Continuing the craft journey with Red Ale.

A Quart of Ale± #41

On the craft journey with Red Ale.

O’Hara’s Irish Red Traditional Ale, 4.3%, 500ml bottle via Radical Drink

This O’Hara’s has a very dark red robe but that “dense lasting white head” fails to materialise, though I have to admit subsequent top-ups did shape up with a coffee coloured crown. Roasted caramel stands out in the aromatics. And you get that caramel and toffee flavour on the palate as well, thanks to the addition of a “pinch of roast barley during the brewing process”. The sweetness of the malt is perfectly balanced through a touch of traditional hop flavour. A terrific example of the style gets a major thumbs up from this quarter.


They say: This Red stands out in this beer style category. The malt body is as impressive as a bock, albeit in a uniquely Irish way. With an incredibly smooth malt body complimented by caramel tones and perfectly balanced in bitterness, this Irish Red is much more complex than its mainstream rivals. Visually the Red colour is intensified by the finest roast barley, while subtle hop additions in the kettle give just the right bitterness and aroma to craft this distinctive Irish Red Ale.The traditional red ale style is sweet malt based, dominated by caramel malts which give a sweet malt base complimented by nutty flavours in complete contrast to the Belgian Red ale style which has a distinctly sour character attributed to lactic acid.

For the Geek

Style: Traditional Red Ale

ABV: 4.3%

Plato °: 10.75°

IBU: 34 

Fermentation: Top fermentation 

Availability: Keg (carbonated), Bottle 50cl and 33cl (occasional 41L cask)

Serving Temperature: 6-8°C

Food Pairing: Pairs well with baked and roasted main courses from the oven such as beef hotpot. Also excellent with winter soups. Delicious accompaniment to mature cheddar or soft goats cheeses.

Glass: O’Hara’s tulip glass or O’Hara’s conical glass. 

Hope Red IPA Winter Seasonal 2020, 5.2%, 440ml via

Hope’s winter seasonal is a red IPA, a dark red with an off white head that quickly reduces. A red with a twist they say and I must say I rather like the direction it takes from the first sip, lots of bright and light fruit melding well with caramel overtones, with a touch of toastiness, from the malts. Thumbs up there straightaway and I can see it would be just the job with the suggested wintery stew, weekend cheeseboard or chocolate.


Malts: Pale malt, crystal malt and wheat malt

Hops: Columbus, Simcoe and Enigma

Dry Hops: Cashmere, Enigma and Centennial

Yeast: English Ale Yeast

Roasted barley.

ABV 5.2%

EBU 55

Hope, in their own words:

Hope Beer started out in 2015 when the brewery was founded by four friends with a passion for beer and business. What began as a series of late-night kitchen table discussions is now a state-of-the-art brewery, producing an extensive range of award-winning premium craft beers.

Hope produces a core range of five distinct beer styles which are available all year round as well as two seasonals and a wide range of limited-edition beers.

All Hope beers are brewed, bottled, canned and kegged at Howth Junction on Dublin’s Northside and are crafted to be the perfect accompaniment to food. Each beer has its own distinct name, story and taste experience....

Crafty Bear “Bimbos” Imperial Red, 8.0%, 330ml via

A warm amber is the colour of this “Bimbos” Imperial Red from Crafty Bear. An off-white head doesn’t hang about (if you want a better head, give it a “robust” pour). Quite a charge of fruit from the hops in the aromas, the malt too getting a look-in.  There’s an initial (and lasting) element of sweetness on the palate. Quite a complex experience, big and malty, with notes of mango and strawberry as the hops too play a role right through to the finish. It has been dry-hopped (lightly) with Citra (a good bittering hop) and Cashmere (known for its smooth bitterness). 

They say: We started Crafty Bear January 2018.

With over 18 years in the hospitality industry the move towards opening our very own brewery was a long time dream come through.

Our love for good beer and the fun in making it is what makes our beers stand out.

Hand bottled, hand labeled and hand delivered. You got to love craft.

Not quite the traditional take but pretty good overall. I have no idea why it’s called Bimbos. Anyone? 

Wicklow Wolf “Wildfire” Hoppy Red Ale, 4.6%, 440ml via

This Wildfire from Wicklow has a dark colour and a short-lived head that looks as if it has been dusted with coffee. You smell coffee and caramel. And the two also feature on the palate, the coffee more prominent now, and it, rather than the weakish caramel, stay to the finish, one with the malts holding the upper hand. Almost a creamy feel to this very mild and pleasing enough example of the style. One for the home fire methinks rather than one in the wild.

Geeky Bits

Hops: Sorachi Ace, Sabro

Malt: Pale, Cara Ruby, Melano, Oats, Roasted Barley

IBU: 28

Serve at 8 degrees.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Quart of Ale± #24 Moving on over to craft. Red Ale Part 2

A Quart of Ale± #24

Moving on over to craft.  

World Champ. You'll never beat the Irish. 

Red Ale (Part 2)

Is Red Ale an Irish style? In the 1970s, beer writer Michael Jackson is 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”. As you can see below, Eight Degrees gave as good as they got in recent competition with their dry Sunburnt. Indeed, the four below are each very enjoyable.

The recent Brew Dog books mention only the American Red, in fact they barely mention the Irish scene at all. Sláinte (2014) acknowledges that there is some “dissent” about Red being an Irish style but say some local breweries have “evolved the style”. More recent examples include Porterhouse who have “banished the sweet”.

Looks like the style is still evolving. We had some very good reds in Part 1. Check it out here.

Eight Degrees “Sunburnt” Irish Red Ale 5.0%, 440ml can via No 21 Cork

In September 2020, Brewing's Sunburnt Irish Red was named World's Best Pale Amber at this year’s World Beer Awards. The verdict on the beer from a panel of international respected judges was: "Dry, a distinctly deep coppery red in colour, and full-bodied with a good head. There are some bitter, burnt raisin aromas, and it’s distinctly hoppy but with malts still present. Very assertive on the palate, with light carbonation and multi-layered flavours”.

Eight Degrees founders Cam Wallace and Scott Baigent were delighted. “Sunburnt Irish Red is the second beer that we ever brewed - back in 2011 - and it’s been a core part of our range ever since.”  

Coppery red for sure but that head vanished quickly. That palate though is something else with its edgy melange of hop and malt, bitter and toasted, making it both assertive (as they say) and distinctive. A new kind of Irish red perhaps! The winning kind, I surmise, as the gently bitter finish fades away.

They say: Like an Irishman on holidays in the Canaries, this beer has a red glow with a chilled out mellow feel. A traditional Irish style with a twist,  – orange marmalade on toast – with a gentle bitterness, 

the distinctive caramel notes balanced with a bitter orange hoppy aroma. 

It wouldn’t be Eight Degrees without a food tip: Goes really well with roast pork, lamb burgers or a venison stew and don’t miss a chance to try it with an Irish washed-rind cheese. But beware: keep out of direct sunlight.

Web: Short description: traditional, with a twist – orange marmalade on toast – gentle bitterness

Style: Irish Red Ale
Malt: Irish pale malt, Cara, Munich
Hops: Nugget, Pacifica, Cascade
Strength: 5% ABV
Bitterness: 69 IBUs

Tasting notes
Colour/appearance: pours a rich red colour with a light tan head.
Aroma: burnt caramel notes and a hint of hoppy citrus.
Flavour: toasty caramel flavours are balanced with a soft hop bitterness. Think orange marmalade on toast.
Aftertaste: gentle bitter finish.

Cotton Ball Velvet Red Ale, 5%, 500ml bottle via Cotton Ball off licence

A very dark red indeed with a coffee coloured head (which departs pretty quickly leaving just a lacy hint or two remaining on the top). Aromas are moderately intense, floral and fruity (citrus). No shortage of character even if pretty much in the classic mode (though it is gluten free) but there’s a refreshing tangy, even exotic, fruitiness and a touch of clean pine in there as well. 

A well-made beer, nicely balanced between the various hops, the bitter and flavour, nothing extreme and the malt sweetness. With its caramel and toffee notes, it makes a pleasant smooth drink on its own and I expect it makes a good companion at the table. Might go down well with one of those tasty Wild Boar burgers from Ballinwillin Farm or perhaps a pizza in the Cotton Ball when it reopens.

Hops used are Herkules and First Gold with a dry hopping of the versatile Mosaic. They have (or at least did have) a nitro draught version in the bar. They brew quite a range of beers and the core ones are all on draught in the bar and indeed in lots of other bars. And there’s a handy growler service as well.

They say: “We are brewing our beers in the true spirit of our Great Grandfather Humphrey J Lynch, an American civil war veteran and cotton mill foreman. Three wives later, Humphrey returned to his native Cork in 1874, to set up his very own public called the Cotton Ball. The pub and the family are still here today and three generations later we are finally brewing our very own selection of craft beers in his honour.”  The brewery was founded in 2013.

The White Hag “The Fleadh” 6.8%, 330ml can via Bradley’s of Cork

Some years ago, I was in a brewery. Well, I’m in at least one brewery every year! But this was different, a big sporting occasion in The Kiln at Murphy’s Brewery in Cork. Lots of gossip going on, lots of beer being poured. The guest of honour came in and you knew it, the minute he walked in the room, even if you had never heard of Charlie Hurley, the Cork born Irish international who has had a stand named after him in Sunderland. He just had this presence and the room unanimously acknowledged it.

It’s a bit like this with The Fleadh. You go through the preliminaries. The deep dark red colour, the last stop before black. The aromas. And then comes the big intro. On the palate. The hubbub stops, tastes buds turn and you concentrate as the personality of this strong beer takes over. Not in an overbearing way, mind you.  But there’s a firm handshake from the earthy malts and the fresh hops, caramel and fruit and a youthful freshness. A superb red ale. One you cannot ignore. Quite possibly your beer of the year.

They say about An Fleadh: A celebration of legendary festivals in Irish Mythological society, an ancient cultural event of music, dance, story and song. Our Red IPA is a symphony of complex earthy malts and fresh forward hops that play the lead in this ensemble. The resulting performance is a seamless combination of fruits and caramel, complimented by the distinctly fresh pine tones.

Just like the legendary Charlie Hurley, this is a strong one at 6.8% ABV and the IBU is 55. The minute he walked in the room…. into that same room, just like Noel Cantwell and Frank O’Farrell.