Last month’s brew, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, was Ruby the Irish Red Ale. I’m not big on roastiness so this was a nice alternative to the otherwise standard Irish Stout.

In my research of the style, I found the term, “Irish Red Ale”, is hardly used to describe anything actually in Ireland – they simply call it “Ale”. The misnomer was made popular by the Coors-brewed George Killian’s Irish Red Ale, which has roots in County Wexford, Ireland but most likely shows little resemblance to the traditional version. Instead, Irish Red Ale is a loose category of malty beers with a caramel or toffee-like sweetness, a hint of roast, enough hops to somewhat temper the sweetness, and a yeast that imparts a very small amount of fruity esters. There wasn’t much consistency from recipe to recipe that I could find beforehand, so, there was some guesswork in my finalized recipe,which can be found here.

How did it turn out?

As you can see from the photo, I didn’t hit the mark on appearance, in terms of color. There is a red hue toward the edges but this is predominantly an opaque, deep copper/brown. The head started off decently-sized but dissipated down to a thin, tan-colored 1/4” thick ring (appropriately as per the guidelines). The aroma is cleanly malty and relatively strong. I get something like darker breads (pumpernickel maybe?), some toasty notes, and light caramel/molasses. The body is somewhere between medium-light and medium while the mouthfeel is soft and smooth with an easy drinking, kind of slippery feeling (though there is some crispness in the finish). The flavor has similar characteristics as the aroma (rich, darker breads, toasty, light caramel), but also goes a couple steps further with hints of chocolate or a light roastiness (from the use of a small amount of roasted barley). These darker flavors linger the most into the aftertaste. I don’t get many esters but the resulting malt sweetness does have a pleasant roundness to it that I would associate with fruitiness. The finish is medium dry. OG= 1.053. FG= 1.012. ABV= 5.3%.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the brew. There are no frills, this is just a good, solid beer. And at 5.3% with a body/flavor that isn’t overbearing, I could easily drink 2 or 3 of these and still be in the game. The color is an issue I should fix. Exactly how, I’m not sure. The roasted barley will stay, it’s just about the only thing all the different recipes that I found agreed on. Probably the Munich or Crystal 80 addition will be adjusted. That being said, the color doesn’t bother a great deal because there’s no such thing as an authentic “Irish Red Ale.” And, note to self: White Labs’ WLP004 would be a good choice for an English Porter.

This month’s pie pairing: Bailey’s Irish Creme Mason Jar Pie. The base layer was crushed graham crackers, topped by a chocolate ganache, topped by chocolate pudding, topped by homemade whipped cream. All the elements were accented by Bailey’s Irish Cream that was barely cooked out. The result was a relatively boozy little treat.