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What’s your favorite Irish red ale?


The Irish red ale isn’t really a style that causes beer geeks to freak out—no one’s waiting in line for two hours to score an Irish red ale. For many craft drinkers, though, the style was a gateway, then tossed aside once a taste for hops was developed. The beer’s balance of sweet caramel and toasted, or roasted, grains may not be as buzz-worthy as 100-percent Brettanomyces beers or chardonnay-aged IPAs, but when the style’s done right, it’s worth talking about.

Case in point: Samuel Adams Irish Red, which scored a whopping 97 points in our current issue. This creamy beer’s blend of toasted malts, fresh bread and sweet caramel is inspired, and matched by the perfect amount of hop bitterness. It’s both sessionable and substantial.

If you’re planning to knock back a selection of Irish beers this weekend, you might want to check out the familiar George Killian’s Irish Red, which underwent something of a marketing facelift recently—its recipe was also tweaked, which allegedly puts it closer to the original version brewed in the 1860s. The result pairs toasted malts against sugary toffee for a pretty quaffable swallow.

For more ideas on what to drink, check out our Reviews section. Or, if you’re lucky enough, pick up a sixer from one of these new Irish breweries.


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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One Comment

  • brandon says:

    I agree Irish Red’s are a “gateway” I get quite nostalgic for Killian’s Irish Red because that is almost exclusively what I drank in college

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