Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brew Day: Irish Red Ale

While I enjoy drinking a well made Irish Red Ale as much as anyone, I don't brew them with any frequency. In fact, the last time I brewed an Irish Red was nearly five years ago and all I really remember about the beer was that it was my first experience with the dreaded S-04 "twang." That is, the unpleasantly estery and tart flavors one can get from fermenting the Whitbread yeasts at too high of a temperature (strain B in particular). Regardless, having spent this past Saturday afternoon relaxing by the lake, drinking a six-pack and a half of Smithwicks, I figure I should give the style a proper go and brew up another batch.

The recipe I am using for this beer is about as simple as one can get, using no ingredients out of the norm. Pale malt, medium crystal, and roasted barley. That is. However, as simple as the grist may look, such basic ingredients can have a huge impact on the flavor of the final beer. For in a beer like this, where getting that balance of buttered toast, toffee, and light roast flavors is quite difficult, it can be easy to overwhelm the beer with one flavor; especially if using large amounts of munich/vienna and caramel malts, as is often the case with many American versions.

To help achieve the toasty-biscuit flavor I so like in Irish Reds, I am using a 50/50 mix of Golden Promise and Gambrinus ESB malt. I figure the GP will provide some sweet maltiness while the ESB malt has a pleasant, clean biscuit character that is a nice mix between regular US pale and toasted malt. I decided against using Maris Otter, as is often used in home brewed Irish Reds, as I want a mellower malt character than the strong honey and biscuit that MO often provides. For crystal malt, I am using Simpsons medium crystal and keeping the percentage somewhat low, as I don't want a lot of caramel flavor. A small amount of roasted barley - I am using an American (350L) - should provide a reddish color and add some toasty flavors as well. Lastly, I am taking somewhat of a chance with the yeast choice, using WLP060 American Ale Blend. This yeast blend makes a very clean, lager-like beer with minimal fruitiness, although it won't provide any of those buttery-diacetyl flavors that can be quite nice in Irish Reds. Hopping is minimal, with EKG for bittering and some aroma.

Fáilid Bó : Irish Red

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.12
Anticipated OG: 1.052
Anticipated FG: 1.010-12
Anticipated SRM: 12
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

93.2% - 8.50 lbs. Pale Malt, GP/ESB
5.5%   - 0.50 lbs. Medium Crystal
1.2%   - 0.12 lbs. Roasted Barley

1.25 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 22 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ flameout

Yeast: WLP060 American Ale Blend
Mash 156F for 60 min
Brewed on 24 June


  1. So, why is it called Fáilid Bó?
    It seems that has something to do with a cow.

    1. Basically, a content, happy cow. Eating that which it is was intended to eat.

      Speaking of which...

      "A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards. A man dies and is buried, and all his words and actions are forgotten, but the food he has eaten lives after him in the sound or rotten bones of his children." - George Orwell.

  2. How cheerful... I need a beer after reading this.
    Since we're chatting, are you up to any brewing? Your blog was a great source of inspiration for my own brewing, but I read each entry three times already, and would be thrilled by new content.


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