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Style Spotlight: Red Ale

My love for with Irish Red Ales goes back all the way to my college days. As a server at Rock Bottom, I was frequently asked to recommend beers to customers that weren’t sure they liked beer.  The red ale became my go to, and here’s why: it’s in the beer sweet spot. It’s right smack in the middle of the beer flavor profiles – not too hoppy, not too malty. A good red ale is like a good old friend- consistently awesome, but not too “out there”.

Red Ales are (you guessed it!) red in color; ranging from amber to reddish copper. They have a caramel centered malt aroma, and very little to no hop aroma. You’ll taste the caramel sweetness of the malt, but the beer finishes nice and dry.  They are usually sessionable, and just an all around very easy-drinking beer.

The history of the Irish Red Ale is pretty hard to nail down. It originates, as you might suspect, in Ireland. Its beginnings are in the Irish town of Kilkenny in 1710 and the birth of the Smithwick Brewery, which featured a red ale as it’s Smithwick’s draught ale.  This new red ale was less hops focused and instead zeroed in on the malt.

It’s interesting to note that the Red Ale is far more popular in America than it is in Ireland. This is most likely due to Coors awesome marketing of Killian’s Irish Red ale, which gained firm traction in America in the 80’s.

This is pretty much all that anyone has to say about the history of red ales. It’s kind of lame. So now, allow me to tell you the history of Trek’s red ale.

Another lifetime ago, in the years B.C. (before children) John and I used to go on fun trips. On one of these trips, we visited Karl Strauss in San Diego and had a beer called the Red Trolley Ale. It is a red ale that lived in infamy in our minds as THE BEST red ale we had ever tasted.

When we returned home from that trip, life got really busy and we welcomed Charlie into our world. Soon after Charlie was born, John began experimenting with red ale recipes. Red Trolley served as his inspiration. He reached out to the brewers at Karl Strauss, and asked them some questions about his brewing techniques. Since the craft beer community is really amazing – the brewers were happy to answer questions and they helped John fine tune his recipe. John now produces an award winning red ale. We know you will love it as much as we do.

Maybe our story about red ales is kind of lame too, but I promise the beer is not. Look for our Red Ale to become a staple in Trek’s taproom.

Cheers to you friends!