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On Beer

photo of a red beerBeer styles

A problem I have with the burgeoning choice of beers is to be able to predict the taste of the beer from the style on the label. Beer may be made primarily from malt, hops, yeast, water but these ingredients and the way they are put together provides a staggering amount of variety. You can predict a lot about a wine from the grape varieties and the location where they are grown but beer? The Belgians and the Germans have had a good go at it, but Anglo-Saxons? The varieties of pale ale are wide ranging. So I'll start this blog with comments about a style of beer I find myself partial to - red ale..

Red Ale
There appear to be two types of red ale: Flemish and Irish/American and I am partial to them both.

Flanders red ale is fermented with additional strains of yeast such as Lactobacillus, which produce souring, lactic products during later fermentation, providing a beer like no other. Long periods of aging are employed, a year or more, often in oak barrels, to impart a lactic acid character to the beer. The matured beer is often blended with a younger batch before bottling to balance and round the character. The regular Rodenbach is three-quarters young and one-quarter aged beer, while the more assertive Grand Cru is two-thirds aged and one-third young beer. Red malt is used to give the beer its colour..
Flanders red ales have a strong fruit flavour similar to the aroma, but more intense. Plum, prune, raisin and raspberry are the most common flavours, followed by orange and some spiciness. The sour or acidic taste can range from moderate to strong. There is no hop bitterness, but tannins are common. Consequently, Flanders red ales are often described as the most wine-like of all beers. Some of my non-beer-drinking friends like Rodenbach whereas my beer-drinking friends tend to hate it.
Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie Sour Brown Ale, Liefmans Goudenband, Duchesse De Bourgogne.

Irish/American Red Ale originated in the town of Kilnenny, in 1710, and was originally similar to an English Pale Ale, apart from having some roasted barley added to the grist. This type of malt gave the beer a darker, red colour and added a toasty, dry flavour, making it very smooth and highly drinkable. Most Irish have moved on to Stouts but the style has become more popular in the US despite the fact that they don't recognise it as a separate style at their main beer festival. These beers have a low to moderate malt aroma, with some whiffs of caramel, toast, and toffee. Some diacetyl (butterscotch or buttered popcorn flavour) may be present, and there is very little going on as far as hops, usually just enough to provide some support. Their signature is that amber to reddish copper color that is clean and clear with a minimal off-white head. A solid, slightly sweet caramel malt flavor is the first thing you’ll notice upon your first sip, with some roasted grain and a drying finish. No hop flavor will be evident, except for maybe some hints of English noble hops. This style of beer tends to focus on the malts, but hop character can range from low to high. Expect a balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness in most examples. Hook Island, illustrated has added rye. Five Point believe rye in the recipe 'gives some dryness and spice, and the hops add a dash of pine and passion fruit', it is certainly an incredibly flavoursome Red Ale, full of lots of interesting tastes and aromas.
Five Points Brewing Hook Island Red, Brew Dog Five am Saint, Tiny Rebel Cwtch Red Ale