How to Brew: Irish Red

An Introduction to Irish Red

What is Irish Red ale? According to the BJCP guidelines (2021), it is “an easy-drinking pint, often with subtle flavors. Slightly malty in the balance sometimes with an initial soft toffee or caramel sweetness, a slightly grainy-biscuity palate, and a touch of roasted dryness in the finish.” Yum.

BJCP Category15A
Original Gravity (OG)1.036–1.046
Final Gravity (FG)1.010–1.014
Color (EBC/SRM)9–14 SRM

At the time of writing, it’s currently mid-winter. I enjoy Irish Red ales and stouts at this time of year. So with St. Patrick’s Day approaching, let’s brew some Irish beer!

One Way to Brew AN Irish Red Ale

While most everyone knows of Saint Patrick of Ireland, there’s another Irish saint who has an interesting story. For us, that is one of the patron saints of beer: Saint Brigid of Kildare.

This Irish Red ale is dedicated to her: Saint Brigid’s Feast.

A little about St. Brigid

Saint Brigid was born in 451 in Dundalk, Ireland, and is particularly known for her compassion towards the needy. Some of the miracles associated with her work involve beer, namely turning bathwater into beer! (This reminds me of a video of Martin Keen brewing beer in a bathtub.)

When asked to help some thirsty lepers, she blessed some bathwater, which miraculously turned to beer! In those days, beer was the preferred drink over water, due to beer being more sanitary–boiling the wort before fermentation and then the alcohol imparted by the yeast during fermentation kept it “clean”.

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God
I'd love the heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity

I'd love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I'd put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of live I'd give them
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I'd offer
To every man.

I'd make Heaven a cheerful spot
Because the happy heart is true.
I'd make the men contented for their own sake.
I'd like Jesus to love me too

I'd like the people of heaven to gathre
From all the parishes around.
I'd give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I'd sit with the men, the women, and God
There by the lake of beer.
We'd be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

Source: CIE Tours (link)

St. Brigid’s Feast Day

Her feast day is celebrated on February 1. This date was originally a pagan holiday (Imbolc) which celebrated the arrival of spring. A perfect time to enjoy thirst-quenching beer!

So as we look forward to the snow melting and the daffodils and crocuses blooming, let’s raise a glass and enjoy this Irish Red ale.

Batch Vital Statistics

Batch Volume20 L
ABV5.6 %
Color34 EBC
Boil Time60 minutes


Water Profile


To reach the target water profile, I added half of a Campden tablet, 3.5 g calcium chloride, 2.2 g magnesium sulfate, 2.2 g calcium sulfate, and 0.8 g sodium bicarbonate to reverse osmosis water.

After heating the water to 65 °C, a portion was removed to reserve as sparge water.


915.111.25Briess Pale Ale
3170 g6 ozBriess Caramel 40 °L
3170 g6 ozBriess Caramel 120 °L
3170 g6 ozBriess Roasted Barley 300 ­°L

Mash Profile

Milled grains were slowly added to the strike water while thoroughly stirring the grain into the water to ensure all of the grain was wet.

After 10 minutes into the mash, I took an aliquot and cooled the sample to 18 °C. The pH measured 5.4.

Saccharification Rest6715360

After mashing out, the grains were sparged, or rinsed, with water.

The wort was then heated to a boil.


HopAlpha AcidTimeIBU
East Kent Goldings (EKG)5.0%60 minutes20


The wort was chilled to 17 °C and transferred to a fermentor.

For this recipe, I used SafAle S-04 from Fermentis.

Fermentation Profile

Primary17633 days
18648 days

Conditioning and Carbonation

After fermentation, the beer was transferred to a keg, cooled, and left to carbonate for 2 weeks.

Conditioning5 °C/41 °F14 days
Carbonation11 psi2.4 volumes of CO2

Recipe Impressions

This beer has a clear, copper-red appearance with an off-white head.

It has a moderate grainy aroma with hints of toast and toffee. Much of those aromas carry over into flavor, as well as a light floral hop flavor.

Overall, this is a great, balanced beer that is perfect for late winter and early spring days.

Do you enjoy Irish Red ales? Let me know what you like or dislike about this style in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *