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Craft Beer: Go red on St Patrick's day for a taste of true Irish tradition

MUCH like St Patrick himself, the beer style most associated with Ireland has been smuggled over from another country.

MUCH like St Patrick himself, the beer style most associated with Ireland has been smuggled over from another country.

The stout, the black stuff, ‘a pint of plain' and all that has its roots in the popular English style of porter which eventually meandered its way up from London and across the Irish Sea, before finding a home for life at St James' Gate.

Before all that, red ale was the most common style brewed by Irish brewers. So, with St Patrick's Day looming, here are a couple of Irish reds with a twist which are worth checking out.

Wildfire by Wicklow Wolf is billed as a hoppy red ale. It clocks in at 4.6 per and comes in a 440ml can and pours a lovely dark ruby colour in the glass. There are the sweet toffee aromas you'd expect from a red ale, but you also get some fresh fruity smells too which gives an indication of the hop profile.

On the palate, the caramel and toffee flavours immediately hit you with the sweetness only just pulled back a bit by the bitterness of the roasted malt.

It is a rather malt-dominant beer to begin with. However, once it settles down, the hops do come to the fore. They've used a blend of Sorachi Ace and Sabro hops in this one, which in turn bring citrus and herbal characteristic and a dry and fruity edge.

Amid all that roasted barley, there are some oats in the malt bill which helps to lend it a smooth and creamy feel and apart from the slight bitter bite from the malt, there's a low and mild level of bitterness overall.

Red Noir from Yellowbelly comes with the usual striking can art from the Wexford-based brewery and is a dark red ale in a 440ml can with a 4.5 per cent abv.

They're not kidding about it being dark. It almost looks like a stout in the glass, but it isn't black (like priests' socks) it's just very, very, very dark red. However, it does put this beer at somewhere between a porter and a red ale.

There's all those lovely roasted malt flavours, even a hint of chocolate and burnt toast which you'd get in a porter or even a dry stout. However, there's also the malty toffee sweetness of a red ale and a nice smooth finish.

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