It's a style that is quintessentially ours, yet is recently evolved from a foreign progenitor. It has been a mainstay of dumbed-down Irish macrobeer for decades, yet has seen a revival at the hands of newer craft breweries. Just what is the story with Irish Red Ale?
Late last year, a small group of us gathered in the Dublin pub with the best selection of reds, plus one British keg bitter, to find out via blind tasting if the microbreweries really are doing a better job, and if the Irish Sea really does mark the boundary of the style.
Flushed with success from our first meeting in Connaught we spent some time talking to the nice people in The Oslo about a tour of the brewing operation and a chance to meet the brewer. It wasn’t long before they put us in contact with John Smits their brewer and we settled on a date. Initial expectations were for a group of about 10 to 12 and we thought that would be on the optimistic side. However, with a little help from our friends at Home Brew West, the numbers soon swelled to over 20 and we began to panic. A quick call to John dispelled all fears as we hatched a plan for a number of smaller tours to help with the numbers.
The traditionally quiet New Year period was not so for the beer fanatics of Beoir. Circumstances led to two brewery visits being arranged for consecutive Saturdays in January, making for early starts, long days and in one case, actual hard work.
Following the success of Beoir#1, the double IPA brewed at Black's of Kinsale last year, the brewing members were keen to have another go at commissioning a commercial beer. So when Trouble Brewing offered to host Beoir#2 they leapt at the chance. This time Reuben put the recipe together and a little after 9am on 10th January the mash got under way.