I’ve just had the pleasure of my first visit to Ireland having spent a few days in Cork. One of the best things about Ireland is how friendly the people are wherever you go, but especially in the pubs. I made it to half a dozen or so and all were excellent with great beer- gives me some more future options for our annual trip! I’m not a big fan of stout but I did have a couple of the obligatory pints of Guinness, it’s probably at least partially the psychology but it definitely tastes better in Ireland.
What I really did enjoy though were the various versions of Irish red beer. At the risk of stating the obvious, the most common Irish beer I’ve come across is stout, which is generally Guinness but when I’ve come across other beer from the Emerald Isle, it’s always been red beer. The same was true in the first few pubs I went to in Cork and I assumed that red was simply to distinguish from stout and that it was a generic term for bitter.
What I discovered however, whilst doing a tour of Franciscan Well Brewery, was that Irish red beer stems from a time when tax was high on hops and so Irish beers therefore were made with a high proportion of malt and a low proportion of hops. For me it makes great beer because I love that malty taste and several nice pints of Smithwick’s Red and Franciscan Well’s Rebel Red went down very nicely!