Irish Ales or “Irish Reds” are rarely brewed on Long Island — perhaps because we aren’t in Ireland. Nevertheless, the borrowed style seems to have been almost ignored once people realized they could order a Bourbon Barrel Bacon Doughnut beer. The style has waned in popularity here in the United States, with newer and bigger beers coming along and dominating.
It reminds me a bit of Counting Crows’ popularity in the 90’s. “But I always liked Counting Crows” you might say. Well good, me too. I also like Irish Reds. So I’m bringing it back to a beer I have liked for years, and I even found one made ‘round here.
The ale pours an amber-red with a brown core and a finger head that barely leaves a trace. The nose is warm and sweet, with ginger, nutmeg, allspice and brown sugar. There’s a strong starchy aroma that brought a vision of cooked brown rice to mind. There were no aromatic hops at all on the nose. It actually smelled like a restrained winter seasonal which is an odd contrast to the summer brews hitting the shelves now. In a sort of “absence makes the heart grow stronger” way, I was immediately attracted.
The palate shows some of the same flavors the nose divulged, but with a distinct nuttiness and malted barley. Ample carbonation is the backbone of this malt driven ale, carrying the medium body and delicate flavors to a soft finish. A beer like this stands out in its un-hoppiness during a time where many brewers are vigorously hopping every style they produce. Without the presence of high acidity or high IBUs, the carbonation works to keep the beer lively and mouth filling. The dry finish is extremely mellow and short, another stark contrast to the mile-long finish of the pale ales and IPAs I’ve been crushing.
Maybe my Irish ancestry drives me to like this style; maybe it’s the easiness of the beer. The Irish like to buy in rounds. One person buys beer for everyone, and the favor is returned until the cycle is complete. This would be the perfect drink to sit down with knowing you had three more coming. There are a bunch of bastardized versions made here in the U.S. (cough cough Killian’s), but this example is extremely well made. It’s light, a bit malty, and unpretentious. Sully’s Irish Ale serves as yet another testament to the great brewing program over at Southampton Publick House.
(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)