Beer Guide: Irish Red Ales

Mention Irish beer on this side of the pond and most of us will automatically think of dark stouts like Guinness. But the country has a long tradition with another, very different kind of beer as well: the Irish Red Ale! Are you a fan of this style of beer?

Irish reds are a kind of ale, meaning that they are made with ale yeast, ferment at moderate temperatures, and have a fairly complex flavor profile. They are indeed red or dark amber in color, and most red ales focus on the malts during the brewing process. Sometimes the malts destined for red ales (usually barley) are roasted longer than is typical. The end result tends to be beers with candy and fruit-like flavor profiles and less hops character.

If you're just getting into beers and aren't quite ready to jump into some of the heavy-hitters, Irish reds are a good place to start. There is a lot of variety among brewers, but all the reds we've tasted are gentle on the palate, very flavorful, and refreshing.

Here are a few to try:

• Smithwick's
• Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale
• Saranac Irish Red Ale
• Samuel Adams Irish Red
• Sullivan's Irish Ale

Which Irish red ales do you recommend?

Related: Good Question: What Can I Cook with Pale Ale

(Image: Flickr member [puamelia] licensed under Creative Commons)

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