A red ale is a form of pale ale that is categorised by its colour. There’s still debate around the fact of whether or not a red ale is really its own class of ale or whether or not it falls under the umbrella of English bitter. A red ale is categorised by a slight sweetness and tea-like flavours. It has a light hop and toasted malt flavours, making it a well-balanced beer. It is made with a high proportion of pale malts and often contains caramel colouring to give it its signature red hue. It is often that red ales will have a dry finish. These beers are very easy drinking, as our very own Tim Martin will tell you from personal experience!
The Irish red ale has a limited history and most of it can be traced back to English bitters and pale ales. There is a mention of Irish red ale in a poem from the 8th or 9th century, but we know that this one would have been brewed very differently from the red ale we drink nowadays (hops were yet to become a staple in the brewing process, they were still a couple of centuries away and people were still using herbs, spices and whatever they could get their hands on).
The term “pale ale” first appeared in Britain in the early 1700’s. It was coined to describe beers which were being made with lighter malts that had been dried and roasted using coke -a process started in the mid-1600’s- that was deemed to improve the all-round quality of the beer. The lighter malts led to a lighter beer, and although they’re by no means light in colour they’re much lighter than the beers the British Public were drinking at the time.
As the century progressed the term “pale ale” became synonymous with the term “bitter". This was a term used only by the public, not by the brewers, and it has been thought to describe those beers that were noticeably hoppier than other forms of ale such as porters and milds.
That’s the history of the Irish red ale because it comes from the pale ale family. The American brewing company Coors Brewing bought the licence to use the name Killian from one of the family member who had closed their brewery in Ireland and began brewing Irish red ale in the States to great success, as a result this beer style is now more popular in the United Staes than in the country it takes its name from.
We said our very own Tim had had “experiences” with this beer whilst in Britain and because said experiences were so good he insisted that we replicate the style here in Tumut. So true to form we have produced a red ale and, not to blow our own trumpet, it is rather good! We, fittingly, named it after the man who insisted we create it; so we called it Redneck Ale. Come down and quiz Tim on the time he had a wedding once with a lot of red ale, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the stories; and the beer!