Irish Red Ale


Irish Red Ale



"Brewed this one on March 28th and tapped this week... Outstanding flavor! This is one of my favorites even without beergas." - Jerz

"... the results from this recipe already taste way better after a two week primary than that Northern Brewer kit ever did even after a couple months in the bottle." - corb5309

"I made this recipe three weeks ago...scaled to around 18 gallons. It fermented out in less than a week. I kegged it two weeks ago and started drinking this week. It's a delicious beer. Light body, approx. 4.3% abv., nice roasty finish...good balance all around. Head doesn't last, but it's sitting on around 12 PSI now, and a stout faucet might do it more justice. Perfect daily drinker for cooling weather." - jengum

"I brewed this one a month or so ago. Half is in the keg (and on tap) and half I just bottled. Taste great, the SO likes it so that's good and good reviews by everyone else." - David_H



Irish Red Ale is mild, moderately malty beer that is best known for its deep reddish copper colour. Closely related to English Bitters, it has an initial sweetness and a subtle roasted dryness in the finish. An easy-drinking pint. The colour comes from the small amount of highly kilned / roasted malt, in this case roasted barley (500L). Use of hops is retrained - just enough to balance out the malt.

Classic commercial examples include Kilkenny Irish Beer and Smithwick's Irish Ale.

Try and use the recommended White Labs WLP004 Irish Red Ale or Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale yeasts. While something like Fermentis Safale US-05 (Chico) yeast can be substituted, it's just not the same as it's a bit too clean fermenting and lacks some of the complexity.

Looking for something lighter tasting and redder in colour? Replace the crystal (40L) and crystal (120L) with Carapils or Carafoam (1.4-2.9L). If your roasted barley (500L) is not kilned to 500L you may need to play with the amount as well. For example, if using less kilned (lower lovibond) barley, you will need to increase the amount slightly to compensate.

Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!


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Irish Red Ale

Size: 12 gal (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Attenuation: 74%
Calories: 167 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity:
1.050 (style range: 1.044 - 1.060)
Final Gravity: 1.013 (style range: 1.010 - 1.014)
Colour: 15.6 SRM (style range: 9 - 18)
Alcohol: 4.9% ABV (style range: 4% - 6%)
Bitterness: 22 IBU (style range: 17 - 28)

17 lb British Maris Otter malt (2.5-4L) (92.6%) 
0.5 lb Crystal malt (40L) (2.7%)
0.5 lb Crystal malt (120L) (2.7%)
0.35 lb Roasted barley (500L) (1.9%)

3 oz UK East Kent Goldings hops (4.7%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [22 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale yeast or White Labs WLP004 Irish Red Ale yeast
(~430 billion cells [4-5 fresh packs] or an equivalent starter)

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Notes / Process

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Balanced flavour profile: Ca=50, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=70, SO4=70. (Hit minimums on Ca and Mg, keep the Cl:SO4 ratio low and equal. Do not favour flavour / maltiness or bitterness / dryness. For balanced beers.). For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • 1.5 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 154F for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 66F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate or oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 8-10 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 66-68F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Ferment until approximately 5 points from final gravity and then raise the temperature to 70-72F until finished. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally rack to a brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys) that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatin dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 5 gallons of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. In most cases we recommend skipping this step as the less you handle the beer and potentially expose it to oxygen, the better.
  • Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2 and then chill to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. In a hurry? Feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. 
  • If serving this beer on regular CO2, go with fairly low carbonation (the lower the better in our humble opinion, or even better, as a cask ale). If you have the means to serve it through a beer engine with no extra carbonation other than residuals left over from fermentation, do it! We think you'll really enjoy the difference. Over carbonation destroys a lot of the subtleties of this beer.
  • We find this beer is even better when served on a stout faucet pushed by a nitrogen/CO2 blend to get a nice creamy head and close to flat beer. One inexpensive way to mimic this is to use a syringe (without needle). Pour the beer as you would normally and then suck up a syringe full and force it back into the beer, hard. Repeat 2-3 times and you'll knock most of the CO2 out of solution leaving a nearly flat beer with a creamy head. Not quite the same texture, but similar to a nitro pour. We tried this for years before finally adding a real nitrogen/CO2 serving setup to our basement bar.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.


Questions? Visit our Irish Red Ale forum thread


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Pictures / Videos

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Kilkenny is of the world's most popular Irish Red Ales, shown served on CO2 / Nitrogen blend to get a nice creamy head and close to flat beerKilkenny is of the world's most popular Irish Red Ales, shown served on nitrogen/CO2 blend to get a nice creamy head and close to flat beer. Image (c)

Smithwick's Irish AleSmithwick's Irish Ale. Image (c)

Irish Red Ale served on CO2 onlyIrish Red Ale served on CO2 only.