|Hard to believe but the Irish Red Ale style was popularized by Coors in the early nineties.Though the term is
rarely heard in Ireland, in other parts of the world it is commonly used to describe a style of reddish-amber or
brown ale that has its roots in Ireland. This style of beer is characterized by its color and by its malt profile,
which typically includes a caramel or toffee-like sweetness. Irish red ale also traditionally contains roasted
malts that provide a dry finish with only a hint of bitterness.
Although this style of beer has been brewed and enjoyed in Ireland for many years, it was in the early nineties
that the American public became very interested in specialty beers and a Coors brand called Killian’s Irish Red,
which had been brewed since 1981 became one of the top selling specialty beer brands in the United States.
Coors supported the popularity of this brand with a marketing campaign that highlighted the beer’s Irish
heritage and distinctive color.
First brewed by the Killian family’s Lett’s Brewery in County Wexford, Ireland, the original beer was called
“Enniscorthy Ruby Ale.” In the 1950s Lett’s Brewery closed and rights to market beer under the George Killian
brand were sold to Pelforth Brewery in France and later acquired by Coors, who immediately released George
Killian’s Irish Red Ale. As it happens, the beer is actually a lager.
In Ireland one will find the popular Smithwicks, brewed by Diageo, though there is no reference here to red ale.
Many American craft brewers have picked up the Irish red ale mantle, brewing lightly malty easy-drinking beers
tinged red by roasted grains. The style is now a mainstay of many American brewpubs.
In a successful marketing ploy March 24 was designated as Orval Appreciation Day. Don't worry
if you missed it the beer is available every day of the year and it's one of my favorites. So to salute
them I thought I'd write a few words about this great offering.
First off, you might be interested in knowing that Orval Trappist ale is considered to be an outcast or outlier
amongst it's Trappist brethrenComing in on the low side of the ABV scale, at 6.9%, Orval is one
of only two beers that the are produced at the Abbaye Notre Dame D'Orval. More fascinating is that
it is the only one that makes it's way out into the public eye. Featuring a lighter, more honey colored
hue than its kin, Orval boasts a unique taste profile which comes from dry-hopping with
Styrian Golding (Austria), Hallertau (Germany), and Strisselspalt (France) hops.
The beer is then only partially carbonated prior to packaging and is bottle conditioned using
priming sugars and a blend of Brettanoymyces wild yeast strains which tends to show their face
after 6 months of conditioning.
When consumed fresh, Orval has a beautiful hop character that, once it subsides with age, gives
way to the work of the Brettanomyces which give a rich complexity and subdued funkiness to the beer.
Hope you found this month's column of interest. If you have any questions about beer or brewing
or just want to submit a word for me to discuss here just e-mail it to me.
Thanks and Cheers!
|Irish Red Ale // Orval Trappist Ale
|A new column by
|Jack O'Reilly attended the
famous Siebel Institute/ World
Brewing Academy in Chicago.
|I'm very excited to be part of the BeerNexus team. I think my many years in the
beer business both as a brewer and manger will enable me to explain and
investigate many topics of interest for those who really love craft beer. Hope you
join me every month.
More by Jack: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7