Red Ales originate from Europe and refers to styles of beer that are dark red or are reddish in appearance. This brew style is still, to some extent, waiting for its big break and to secure a spot amongst the more easily recognized beer styles. Red Ales can almost be thought of as the European version of an American Amber Ale since ‘red’ and ‘amber’ are essentially describing the same full-flavored, hoppy, buttery beer. Currently Red Ales are stuck sharing a category with American Amber Ales and while these styles are comparable to each other, the Red Ale is ready to stand on its own!
Red Ales, unlike Amber Ales, use specialty roasted malts that create a unique complexity within the finished beer and gives it a sweeter, butterscotch or caramelized flavor. The use of American hops varieties gives the brew very bold hops characteristics and tends to leave a dry finish.
This brew can range from a light amber/red to a dark brown with red hues. They also have certain contrasting element that attracts many of its drinkers. While Red Ales are darker and usually rich, they also contain components of a much lighter beer with a dry, crisp and hoppy finish. These beers pair wonderfully with food due to their robust nature.
Another example of a Red Ale is an Irish Red Ale. While these share many similar qualities with the American Red Ale, the use of English hops makes all the difference. This style is amber to deep copper in appearance and can be sweeter than its American counterpart. However there is typically little to no hop presence. Irish Red Ales have a smooth, warm mouthfeel and moderate carbonation with a dry finish.
There have been several Red Ales featured in our Craft Beer Club and our members have had the pleasure of tasting Belfast Bay Brewing Co.’s “Lobster Ale” — a unique Red Ale from Maine. This is a great example of a classic Red Ale and we will be featuring more of this style in the upcoming monthly beer shipments to our members.
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