Posts Tagged 'irish red'

AG#20 – Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale


On the spur of the moment, having done a bit of a stock-take on my grain supplies, I decided to do a bit of a leftovers beer. I had planned on doing one in the New Year, but I had so many “odds and sods” of grains that I just wanted to get rid. I also want something malty to put in a corny keg for when I get my keg setup going next month. I don’t want anything hoppy or a beer that will deteriorate during an unknown period of storage. It might be a few weeks before I can get the cornies set up.

I’ve got a fair bit of crushed Munich malt which is probably well past its prime. I’ve also got some random small amounts of crystal and some Abbey malt leftover from my latest Belgian series. In terms of style, I’m going for some kind of Irish Red, but if the colour is off, I’ll just call it something else! It might turn out to be more “brown ale”, but I don’t mind. I’ll be adding lots of English hops that are still fresh, but the bags have been open a while.

One thing is for sure, I won’t be forgetting the Whirlfloc, like I did last time!

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 30.6 EBC
Estimated IBU: 31.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.900 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 73.5 %
0.710 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 13.4 %
0.196 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC), 3.7 %
0.143 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 2.7 %
0.134 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC), 2.5 %
0.100 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 1.9 %
0.075 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 1.4 %
0.050 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 0.9 %
18 g Challenger [7.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 19.7 IBUs
30 g Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 5.3 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g East Kent Goldings [5.00 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 6.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.308 kg
Mash In           Add 14.86 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.35l) of 77.0 C water

07/09/2014 Brew Day – Great craic going through the malt supplies and tossing them into the bucket. Hwoever, I did measure the amounts as I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going for something too off-centre. Mashed in the morning and left the wort sitting for a few hours before doing the boil. Wort is really dark. The temperature was a lot lower than I wanted (sub 75C, will I ever get it right?!) so I added an extra litre of water from the HLT and brought it back to around 67C. Hop additions were a little spur of the moment. My concentration lapsed near the end of the boil due to domestic matters and I forgot to add my 1-min addition. I had already started the chiller and had chilled the wort to around 80C before remembering the 45g of hops and chucking them in. I also forgot to put them in a bag. Hopefully all will be fine. Run-off from boiler was great, though I’m not sure why. There was a fair amount of hops and cold break, but I did open the tap very slowly. Is this the key? Re-hydrated US-05 sachet in one of my yeast flasks in about 200ml water. Took approximately 18 hours for visible signs of fermentation.

11/10/2014 – After years of homebrewing, almost to the day, I finally kegged my first batch of beer! Cleaned the keg out with boiling water from the kettle, which put pressure on the lid. Sanitised with StarSan also, racking the solution into the keg from a fermenting bucket, using an auto-siphon. Put the keg out in the shed to condition.

09/11/2014 – I thought this recipe was going to be a bit of a disaster, it being a leftovers recipe. But it’s actually turned out excellent. There’s a lovely rich, malty flavour, which I think comes from the large percentage of Munich malt. That and the restrained charge of toasty crystal 60. The big hop additions don’t really come through, it’s just a great malty ale. Definitely parts of this grain bill that I will use in future Irish Reds. It’s a great Irish Red, but could use a little more roastiness. I’m rather embarrassed to say this, but my first pull from the keg was very disappointing, and i’ve only just realised why.. Not only did I pick up a load of yeast from the bottom of the keg, but it occurs to me that the beer dip tube and picnic tap were probably full of sanitising solution! I should have pulled a pint and chucked it away before tasting another. It has really cleared up now and the flavour improved no end.

14/11/2014 – This is a really lovely beer. A very complex grain bill, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in what is supposed to be a malty style of ale. I’ll incorporate a lot of the elements of this leftovers beer into my Buckshot Flag beer. One thing I’ll definitely be doing is using a high percentage of Munich. The Aromatic/Abbey malt is an odd addition to an Irish Red Ale, but at 2.5% it has to be lending something to the flavour. The level of roast is not high enough. There should be a roasted flavour to provide a dry counterpoint to the caramel sweetness of the rest of the grain bill. I thought that black malt was “roastier” than roasted barley but I might be wrong in that. I’ll probably keep the size of the addition the same, but replace with roasted barley to see if that makes a difference. The only problem is that the beer is already as dark as I want it. Any more might see it veer into “porter” territory. So I might decrease the dark crystal a little. The amber malt will stay the same as it’s so easy to overdo amber in a beer like this. I’ll be making a couple of changes to the hop bill too. I want to use lower AA hops for my bittering addition to get more noble flavour in the beer. It also needs an extra couple of IBUs – at the moment it’s probably more to style, but not really to my taste.

08/12/2014 – Hooray! Keg finally ‘kicked’, as the expression goes. And not a moment too soon. That means I have 5 days to get the Little Dawg gassed up and ready in time for the Xmas party. This was a good recipe, especially for leftovers, and a worthy beer to go into my first corny keg.

AG#3 – Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale


This beer was a bit of “spur of the moment” job. I hadn’t planned on doing an Irish Red this year, but I’d messed up the gravity on my English brown ale due to grain crushing issues and I wanted to do a little practice brew to sort those efficiency problems out.

I’ve done a red ale before and it scored 38/50 in last year’s National Brewing Championships. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the beer, to be honest, but I entered it in the competition regardless just to get the feedback. Even though it scored highly it failed to take a medal, so there’s obviously room for improvement in my recipe.

I’m using the Leann Dearg recipe as a base, but making some changes to the malt bill. There was too much heavy dark crystal flavour and it was making the beer seem overly roasty also. So I’ve replaced the Crystal 100 with Crystal 75 which has a completely different character in the finished beer. I’m also adding a small percentage of amber malt which really accentuates the malty flavours in beer. I’m also adding a significant portion of wheat malt to aid head retention. Of course, this time I’m also using an all-grain recipe with almost four and a half kilograms of Maris Otter.

For yeast, I did consider repitching some of the WLP007 yeast cake from my Penny Lane Brown Ale, but that will probably give an inappropriate level of esters for the style. So I’ll be using a fresh sachet of US-05 which I will be sprinkling straight into the wort. Hops will be East Kent Goldings, just the bittering addition and a small flavour addition at 5 mins.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 13.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.450 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 85.8 %
0.250 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 4.8 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 3.9 %
0.125 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 2.4 %
0.100 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 1.9 %
0.060 kg Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM), 1.2 %
25 g Goldings, East Kent [6.90 %] – Boil 60.0, 23.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Goldings, East Kent [6.90 %] – Boil 5.0, 4.3 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.185 kg
Mash In           Add 14.52 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 17.05l) of 77.0 C water


17/11/2013 – Heated strike water to 80°C which had dropped to 75.3°C after transfer to mash tun. Rather than add cold water to reduce the temperature by just one degree, I just stirred vigorously and splashed the water up the sides of the MT a little. This did the trick and dropped the temperature to 74.3°C. Time to dough in.

Added grain and stirred, then took another temperature reading. Settled on a mash temperature of 67°C, which is 1°c less than intended. However, after mashing for 1 hour, I took another reading to check if the temperature had dropped during the course of the mash, and I was surprised to see the thermometer reading 68.1°C! A degree more than I had originally recorded. I must remember to take a few readings at different areas of the MT in future.

Heated sparge water to 85C as I was banking on the grain bed being at 77°C after batch sparging. However, I was slightly off with my measurements as when I took the temperature of the sparge it was at 74.4°C. Not catastrophic, but still slightly off. I left to settle for 10 minutes before running off.

I had just over 25 litres pre-boil gravity but I ended up chucking a little (say half a litre) of my sparge water as I was concerned about having too high a pre-boil volume, as I had last time. For the first time, I took a pre-boil gravity reading and it came out just slightly higher than BeerSmith predicted at 1.044.

After boiling was finished, I had 22 litres post-boil volume and got 19 litres into the fermenter, though I think there was a lot more break material in the fermenter this time. Though I did tilt the boiler slightly at the end of draining. Great to have my efficiency issues mostly sorted, after only 3 brews with my new system. Toasted my success with the last bottle of Von Smaullhausen, not a bad drop considering all the trouble I had with it.

Chilled to 17°C and sprinkled a new packet of US-05 and snapped the lid on before transferring the FV to “Der Fermentationsraum”.

18/11/2013 – Still dark and flat as a pancake when I got up this morning, though in fairness, it had only been 9 hours since pitching. A very small patch of yeast fermenting yeast, I think. Brought the fermenter into the kitchen. Took a temperature reading when I got home from work: 18°C. Just worried about it getting too warm.

19/11/2013 – Took another temperature reading of 18.5°C.

10/12/2013 – Bottled with 110g of dextrose (17l @ 2.5 vol). In actual fact, I got more out of the fermenter than expected, just over 17.5l so will end up with slightly less carbonation than intended. Got 35 bottles from the batch.

18/01/2014 – Got some decent comments about this at a tasting meet the other night. It’s actually much nicer tasting when you drink a full pint of it and can appreciate the colour in a full-sized glass. The colour is not as red as the last Irish Red I did, it’s more “amber verging on red”, but I’m still pleased with it. A very pleasant flavour, though I think slightly more roasted barkey dryness would be appropriate. The amber malt really makes itself known, despite using only 125g in a 19l batch. It really is an awesome grain, but has to be used judiciously in anything that’s not a porter/stout. Head formation is awesome and lasts pretty well to the bottom of the glass. Excellent level of carbonation also.

31/01/2014 – Excellent result, though it could definitely do with another smidge of roasted barley. I’ll probably reduce the amber malt slightly too as it might be just a little too prominent.

12/03/2014 – On side-by-side comparison, the head formation in the O’Haras is surprisingly good, and the homebrew is quite poor for a change. The head formation and retention in this beer is normally pretty good. Must be a grimy glass or something. The first thing that immediately strikes you is that O’Haras is a slight shade darker and much clearer, because it’s filtered obviously. The flavour and body is quite different. Normally, my side-by-side comparisons yield a clear winner, but in this case, I think both beers are equal. The O’Hara’s is a lower gravity beer, which makes it quite refreshing. The homebrew has a lot more body and crystal malt sweetness. The amber malt also lends a massive malt flavour punch which makes it quite different. But still, with the homebrew, you’re left in no doubt that’s an Irish Red you’re drinking. The O’Haras has more roasted barley character that I think is missing in the homebrew. It also has a little chocolatiness which is very pleasant. The homebrew definitely has a more prominent hop bitterness; I might even consider taking this downa notch or two next time.


PM#4 – Leann Dearg

After much deliberation, reading forums, posting on Beoir and listening to podcasts, I finally decided on a recipe for my Irish Red which I’ve christened “Leann Dearg”. I want something akin to “O’Hara’s Red” – plenty of caramel, clean yeast character and a generous roasty finish. Using the targets specified in “Brewing Classic Styles” I came up with the following. I was a bit confused about how much roasted barley to use. Jamil uses a whopping 170g of 300L roasted barley but it seems the Americans use a much lighter version than we do here (and in the UK). My roasted barley is around 600L so decided to tread carefully on my first attempt and use 60g for a 19 litre batch. I hope to get a decent colour but with a noticeable “burnt toast” finish. I just don’t want to veer into porter/stout territory, so caution is the key here.

Category: Irish Red Ale
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Total Grain/Extract: 3.50 kg
Total Hops: 58.0 g


  • 1 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.17 kg Crystal 100
  • 0.06 kg Roasted Barley
  • 0.17 kg Crystal 40
  • 0.1 kg Biscuit Malt
  • 0.9 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 1.1 kg Dry Light Extract (15 min late addition)
  • 37 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 4.5 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets(15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Original Gravity: 1.055 (1.044 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.010 – 1.014)
Color: 15.62 °SRM (9.00 – 18.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 25.0 IBU (17.00 – 28.00 IBU)
ABV: 5.5 % (4.00 – 6.00 %)

Used Jamil Zainasheff’s “Irish Red” targets as follows: OG: 1054, IBU: 25, SRM: 17

Got an OG of 1.054 but I was careful about the amount of top-up water I used. I reckon the total volume was only about 18 litres, so it seems my mash efficiency is way off target. I thought it would be a lot better because I was careful with the sparging.

Sample from trial jar tastes fantastic. Lots of caramel sweetness and plenty of hops but not much roast coming through. This will probable become more evident when it’s fermented. Here’s hoping.

06/10/2012 –bottled with 130g sugar. I only had about 60g of dextrose so I made the difference up with plain old table sugar. Only got 31 bottles due to the reduced volume. I really need to sort out my efficiency issues if I’m planning on upping the amount of base malt in my partial mashes. Got a nice roasty aroma out of the FV.

31/10/2012 – Perhaps it was a tad optimistic but I just had my first sample of this, less than 4 weeks in the bottle. Not great, it still tastes pretty young, like the darker crystal malt hasn’t had time to mellow out. I’ll give it another 3 weeks. Carbonation is decent. Colour is a little darker than I was expecting. Nice hit of roasted barley too, but nothing too dry. This may become more apparent as the beer matures.

22/11/2012 – Had an excellent result with this, though not quite there with the recipe yet. I think the darker crystal gives too much raisin, stone-fruit type flavours. It also comes across very sweet. Funnily enough, I agonised most over the amount of roasted barley to use, but I think the 60g I used was perfectly judged. Next time, I might reduce the ABV a bit and sub out the darker crystal with a lighter variety. I think I’d like a bit more late hop character in this also. Overall I’m very pleased with it though. I’d like to do a side-by-side tasting with some Clotworthy Dobbin as I think it’s quite similar. Indeed, the title “ruby porter” could easily applied to this beer.

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