Samuel Adams added another beer to its huge portfolio this year with its Irish Red, a good, but not great example of the style.
The best Irish red ales should be malty with a hint of roast, low bitterness and hop flavor and have a striking red color from the use of caramel malt grain.
Samuel Adams’ entry has the color, but just falls short in body and maltiness. It is, however, smooth and fresh – I let about a quarter-full glass sit on my counter for a half-hour, and when I returned there was still a quarter-inch of thick foam on the top. I can’t even get my homebrew to do that.
The only other Irish reds I know of that have a large distribution and are worthwhile are Smithwick’s and Goose Island’s Kilgubbin. Smithwick’s, made by Guinness, is the most roasted, while Kilgubbin (not available in Arizona) is a little too hoppy for the style, but still good.
Made by Coors, Killian’s Irish Red tastes too much like the typical mass-produced beers to be taken seriously. It has the name, but not the soul, of the Irish style.
In Tucson, Frog & Firkin 874 E. University Blvd.; The Auld Dubliner, 800 E. University Blvd.; and Firkin & Friar, 6958 E. Tanque Verde Road, serve Smithwicks Irish Ale on tap.
None of the three local breweries makes an Irish ale. But BJ’s Brewhouse Restaurant, 4270 N. Oracle Road, with beer brewed in Chandler, has one – Jeremiah Red.
Food & Drink Editor Dina L. Doolen contributed to this article.