It seems like any beer with the word “Irish” or “red” in its name is a popular choice among American beer drinkers. I’m not completely sure why this is, although I’d venture to guess that looking at a red-colored beer is a lot more aesthetically-pleasing than looking at a yellow, gold, or brown-colored beer. But few Joe Six Packs can actually describe what an Irish Red actually tastes like. Is it sweet? Fruity? Bitter?
America’s biggest craft brewery, the Boston Beer Company, seems determined to bring this niche ale style to the mainstream with their Samuel Adams Irish Red Ale. It has a unique, sweet taste that could appeal to anyone.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
The beer pours very smoothly and forms only a small layer of off-white, soapy head, which never completely dissipates and leaves a large amount of lacing on the glass. The beer is lightly carbonated, as well.
Would it come as any surprise to you to learn this beer is brick red in color? It also veers on being slightly light brown or orange. The aroma is very malty and slightly sweet.
So what does an Irish Red taste like? Well, in the case of Samuel Adams it’s not too far removed from an Oktoberfestbier, actually. The taste is very malty with a generous caramel flavoring. There also seems to be some fruit and toffee flavors present, but only in passing.
Overall, the beer is quite malty and has a dry, almost chalky aftertaste. It even seems to have a slightly oily character, but this is really only noticeable if drunk at warmer temperatures. I wasn’t sure if this beer is better cold or cool so I tried it both ways and I think it’s actually tastier at a colder temperature. Even though this is a fairly dark ale, not a light lager, its flavor seems to weaken as it warms.
Samuel Adams Irish Red is pretty easy to drink and goes down fairly smooth. This isn’t surprising considering its only lightly carbonated, but it might seem much coarser to lightweights since it does have a slightly dry taste and is medium-bodied.
Although this beer is technically only medium in body, it drinks like an even heavier beer. After just two bottles I felt quite full, and if I had any more I probably would have felt bloated (which is no wondering considering it’s 5.5% ABV and has 180 calories). It’s a beer you drink on its own or with a meal, not as a party beverage.
This is probably as close as an American brewer will get to truly replicating an Irish Red so it’s quite a worthy, valiant effort. I would recommend trying something more authentic if you have the means, but if not, Samuel Adams Irish Red will likely satisfy everyone.