Style Details

Irish Red Ale
Irish Beer
BJCP Style Code
15 A
Medi­um amber to medi­um red­dish-cop­per color. Clear. Low off-white to tan colo­red head, avera­ge persistence.
Low to mode­ra­te malt aro­ma, eit­her neu­tral-grai­ny or with a light­ly cara­mel­ly-toasty-tof­fee cha­rac­ter. May have a very light but­tery cha­rac­ter (alt­hough this is not requi­red). Hop aro­ma is low ear­thy or flo­ral to none (usual­ly not pre­sent). Quite clean.
Mode­ra­te to very litt­le cara­mel malt fla­vor and sweet­ness, rare­ly with a light but­te­red toast or tof­fee-like qua­li­ty. The pala­te often is fair­ly neu­tral and grai­ny, or can take on a light­ly toasty or bis­cui­ty note as it finis­hes with a light tas­te of roas­ted grain, which lends a cha­rac­te­ristic dry­ness to the finish. A light ear­thy or flo­ral hop fla­vor is optio­nal. Medi­um to medi­um-low hop bit­ter­ness. Medi­um-dry to dry finish. Clean and smooth. Litt­le to no esters. The balan­ce tends to be slight­ly towards the malt, alt­hough light use of roas­ted grains may increase the per­cep­ti­on of bit­ter­ness slightly.
Medi­um-light to medi­um body, alt­hough examp­les con­tai­ning low levels of diace­tyl may have a slight­ly slick mouth­feel (not requi­red). Mode­ra­te car­bo­na­ti­on. Smooth. Modera­te­ly attenuated.
Over­all Impression
An easy-drin­king pint, often with subt­le fla­vors. Slight­ly mal­ty in the balan­ce some­ti­mes with an initi­al soft toffee/caramel sweet­ness, a slight­ly grai­ny-bis­cui­ty pala­te, and a touch of roas­ted dry­ness in the finish. Some ver­si­ons can empha­si­ze the cara­mel and sweet­ness more, while others will favor the grai­ny pala­te and roas­ted dryness.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Gene­ral­ly has a bit of roas­ted bar­ley or black malt to pro­vi­de red­dish color and dry roas­ted finish. Pale base malt. Cara­mel malts were his­to­ri­cal­ly impor­ted and more expen­si­ve, so not all bre­wers would use them. 
While Ire­land has a long ale bre­wing heri­ta­ge, the modern Irish Red Ale style is essen­ti­al­ly an adapt­a­ti­on or inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the popu­lar Eng­lish Bit­ter style with less hop­ping and a bit of roast to add color and dry­ness. Redis­co­ver­ed as a craft beer style in Ire­land, today it is an essen­ti­al part of most bre­wery lin­eups, along with a pale ale and a stout.
Seve­ral varia­ti­ons exist within the style, which cau­ses the gui­de­lines to be some­what broad to accom­mo­da­te them. Tra­di­tio­nal Irish examp­les are rela­tively low in hops, are grai­ny with a slight roast dry­ness in the finish, fair­ly neu­tral in gene­ral. Modern export Irish examp­les are more cara­mel­ly and sweet, and might have more esters. Ame­ri­can craft ver­si­ons are often more alco­ho­lic ver­si­ons of the Irish export examp­les. An emer­ging Irish craft beer sce­ne is explo­ring more bit­ter ver­si­ons of tra­di­tio­nal examp­les. Final­ly, the­re are some com­mer­cial examp­les that sound Irish but are essen­ti­al­ly Inter­na­tio­nal Amber Lagers, with sweetish pala­tes and litt­le bit­ter­ness. The­se gui­de­lines are writ­ten around the tra­di­tio­nal Irish examp­les, with slight exten­si­ons for export Irish ver­si­ons and modern craft Irish versions.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Caffrey’s Irish Ale, Fran­ciscan Well Rebel Red, Kil­ken­ny Irish Beer, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale, Por­ter­house Red Ale, Samu­el Adams Irish Red, Smithwick’s Irish Ale
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.036 - 1.046 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.014 SG
9 - 14 SRM
3.0 - 5.0 %vol
18 - 28 IBU