Seeing as St. Patrick’s Day is Tuesday, March 17, I would like to highlight an Irish Red Ale from Great Lakes Brewery. Most people think of Guinness when celebrating St. Paddy’s Day … my favorite is an Irish Red.
The red ales of Ireland have a smooth maltiness and caramel flavor with earthy and restrained hop character. These are session ales, so alcohol is generally at 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or less.
Conway’s Irish Ale is Great Lake’s interpretation of an Irish Ale. This is a malty beer with a toasty flavor and slight fruit and hop accents that add to the overall drinking pleasure. It is available from mid-January through late March. The namesake is homage to Patrick Conway, a Cleveland policeman who directed traffic near the brewery for nearly 25 years and grandfather of co-owners Patrick and Daniel. This beer has won six, gold and a silver medal at the World Beer Championships.
Proper serving is in a traditional English nonic pint glass at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This beer pours a brilliant copper reddish color that is crystal clear. A nice high off-white head develops and quickly diminishes, which is true to this style. The aroma is grainy and earthy, with a slight sweetness from the caramel; the hop nose is minimal, but teases with some fruitiness, possibly orange and plum.
The first taste hits with caramel sweetness and bready/biscuit maltiness. There is very little hop presence, but a slight lemon and orange develops at the finish, with the caramel sweetness asserting itself once again, very clean. The mouth feel is slightly creamy with medium body and minimal carbonation bite, really refreshing. Lacing is minimal to none.
Overall, this beer is well crafted with good balance and stands on its own without huge flavor influences or alcohol. I really enjoy beer like this that’s done right. The 6.5 percent ABV hides in the background, so this does not really fall under the session ale category like its Irish ancestors, but well worth a couple at a sitting maybe with the Beer Braised Pot Roast recipe also posted on this site under the Batches/Food recipes tab.
I have only seen this in the in bottles, but would love to try it on tap, or even better, cask conditioned! If you don’t get a chance to try Conway’s Irish Ale, make sure you put on the green and stop in at your local brewpub, possibly they will have an Irish Ale or at the very least a fine stout on tap. Remember, everybody is Irish on St. Paddy’s Day!
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