Irish Red Ale

I was at an Irish pub in Charlottetown, Prince Island, Canada last evening and thought I would try one of their Irish Red ales. I realized that I did not know a lot about Irish reds so I decided to educate myself with a little research. First the definition:

Irish Red Ale is an ale originating in Ireland that has a reddish hue from the inclusion of a small amount of roasted barley. In America, some darker amber ales and ales with artificial coloring are also labeled as red ales. A more detailed description would be; medium light to medium body. Low to moderate malt aroma. May have slight roasted grain flavor. Low hop aroma. No hop flavor. Amber to deep-reddish color. Clean finish. No esters. Clean flavor with a caramel malt flavor and a hint of roasted grain. Smooth with moderate carbonation.

I was already familiar with Killian’s Red (full name “George Killian’s Irish Red”) in the US and Rickard’s Red in Canada. Checking the background of each:

George Killian’s Irish Red ale was created in 1864 by Mill Park Brewery in Enniscorthy, Ireland. You can see their full story at The version we buy in the US today is brewed in the US by Coors Brewing Company. So far it is my favorite Red, but, purely in the interest of science I have more investigating and tasting to do.

Rickard’s Red is an American Amber / Red Lager style beer brewed by Molson Coors Canada in Etobicoke, ON, Canada. . It was first brewed in 1983 and does not trace its history back to Ireland.

Other American Brewed Irish Reds (with no direct Irish lineage) are:

  • Samuel Adams Irish Red
  • Samuel Adams Brick Red
  • Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale
  • Red Trolley Ale
  • Thomas Hooker Irish Red Ale
  • And the list seems to be endless

The 2 most popular Irish Reds in the US which are imported from Ireland:

Murphy’s Irish Red Murphy’s Brewery was founded in Cork, Ireland in 1856 by James Jeremiah Murphy (James J. Murphy). It was known as Lady’s Well Brewery until it was purchased by Heineken International in 1983, when the name changed to Murphy Brewery Ireland Ltd. The name of the brewery was recently changed to Heineken Brewery Ireland, Ltd. The brewery produces Heineken, Murphy’s stout and other Heineken products for the Irish market.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – Smithwick’s can trace their brewing history all the way back to 13th century monks at the St. Francis Abby. The Smithwick’s brewery was founded in Kilkenny in 1710. It was acquired by Guinness in 1965, which is now part of Diageo. The Kilkenny brewery was shut down in 2013 and all Smithwick’s and Kilkenny branded beers are now brewed in Dublin.

Other Irish Reds brewed in Ireland are:

  • O’Hara’s Irish Red – Carlow Brewing Company, Ireland
  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – Smithwick’s Brewery, Ireland
  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – – Smithwick’s Brewery, Ireland
  • And there are lots more that I have not discovered yet.

So, in the interest of broadening my knowledge, and sacrificing my liver,  I will keep on researching and tasting. Cheers and bottoms up.