3.1AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Here’s irony for you: Ireland is known for its stouts (a type of beer I love) and it’s red ales (a type I’m unimpressed by). How can the same country make such different beers? Or even the same brewery within that country? Guinness is known for their stout, but they also make Harp (a very plain lager) and Smithwick’s (a very plain Irish Red). It makes me wonder how an example of such authenticity can be so unimpressive.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Smithwick’s is known for its flat head due to it’s smooth pour, so in order to generate a decent head it should be poured roughly. I was able to get a large, bright white, foamy/fizzy head which lasted for much longer than I expected. It also left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body is crystal clear dark copper with, not surprisingly, a reddish hue. There is noticeable carbonation upon pouring, but it calms down quickly. The beer does not have a particularly inviting smell, as it’s reminiscent of a lager with a strong grainy scent.
As a fellow beer critic noted, the first thing noticeable about Smithwick’s is its fizziness. I wouldn’t call this a strong hop bite, but rather an indicator of a very gassy beer. After a few swigs I find the beer has a generic hoppy quality but is otherwise very bland and watery. There are no individual ingredients to pick up on here.
At least it doesn’t have an off-putting grainy taste as there is a very subtle sweet and toasted malt flavor, but it shouldn’t have been so subdued. It also has a dry aftertaste which I didn’t appreciate.
Sometimes a beer’s carbonation can have more impact on its finish than its actual ingredients. Smithwick’s intense mouthfeel is initially shocking, but as the carbonation settles it becomes much more drinkable. However, it does remain noticeably gassy until the last drop making for a rather unpleasant drinking experience.
At only 4.5% ABV combined with the plain taste this is definitely a beer that could be enjoyed as a session brew, but I’m not sure why you would want to.
I was really hoping to enjoy Smithwick’s due to its reputation and authenticity. But if Guinness can’t make an Irish red ale that I like – can anyone?