3. Murphy's Irish Red
Murphy's is the only one of the Big Three Irish Stout Producers -- Guinness and Beamish being the others -- that produces its own Irish red that you can still find here in the states. Yet another of the dry, malty, caramel-flavored Irish red ales, it's named for the reddish hue that comes from adding just the right amount of roasted barley.
Murphy's red dates back to the early days of Lady's Well Brewery in 1856, when it was brewed as Lady's Well Ale. The modern incarnation has a bit less romance to it after being reintroduced by Heineken in 1983 to appease beer-drinking countries Heineken didn't think would take to stout.
Since then, however, Murphy's and Smithwick's have spawned a host of U.S. doppelgangers that have little to no Irish roots but are giving the old standbys a run for their money. Boston Beer (SAM - Get Report) makes a serviceable version with its Samuel Adams Irish Red, but kicks the ABV up to 5.8% for the American craft beer masses. Some of the best Irish Reds in the U.S., however, come from the Midwest. Kansas City, Mo.-based Boulevard Brewing's Irish Ale (5.8% ABV), Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing's Conway's Irish Ale (a whopping 6.5% ABV) and the smooth caramel and peat of the Brian Boru Old Irish Red (5.5% ABV) from Three Floyd's Brewing in Munster, Ind., started with the same traditional red ale foundation but gave it an American spin.
Want to mock the folks at the pub drinking cider on St. Patrick's Day? Guess what, boyo? Those folks were there drinking cider the day before and they'll be there knocking back ciders long after your little amateur hour escapades are over.
Irish it ain't, but it draws more inspiration from Irish brewing than much of today's stout. Once again, not of Irish descent in the least. India Pale Ale is a British style that's since been Americanized and has precious little to do with Irish ales and stouts. Black IPA is a dark ale and, as we mentioned earlier with stouts and ports, it can get awfully difficult to find the nuanced differences between the styles. Black IPA cuts some of the mystery by going heavy on the aroma and flavoring hops and tossing in citrus flavors as the prime source of bitterness that would usually come from roasted malt. Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing, for example, comes strong with an 8.7% ABV Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale that's heavy on the hops and citrus, while San Francisco's 21st Amendment cans its 6.8% Back In Black and ships it just about everywhere. Just up the Pacific Coast in Oregon, brewers such as Rogue and Deschutes also dabble in hoppy black IPAs. They're not such a tough find on the East Coast, either, as Lakewood, N.Y.-based Southern Tier Brewing produces a formidable version in Iniquity that mixes smoke and hops in a potent 9% ABV brew. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.