IRISH SESSION ALES

Centuries of traditional Irish brewing were swept away in the 20th century by multinational brewers, all but erasing the memory of local beer styles.  From the 1960s to the start of this century, Irish beer was session strength blond lager, black stout or reddish ale.  Even the first wave of new independent breweries, founded in the 1990s, mostly emulating this range.  The most Irish have styles are the ones that diverged away from their English predecessors. 

See also: Irish stout 

Irish Red

A sampler of Irish Red at the Cotton Ball brewpub in Cork, Ireland (photo: André Brunnsberg)

Historically, pale ale brewing in Ireland differed little from that in England.  The roots of Irish Red can be traced to the 1961 consolidation of three breweries into a single entity owned in effect by Guinness.  Recipes became sweeter, prompting beer writer Michael Jackson in 1976 to suggest these might constitute a style of their own that he dubbed ‘Irish Red’ (4.0-4.8% ABV).  Larger brewers and some first wave independents still market this in Ireland.  Newer, smaller independents are less keen, though some have riffed on the concept and variations can appear with all-Irish ingredients, up-hopped, stronger, or even barrel-aged. 

> The beer styles of Europe and beyond > SESSION STRENGTH ALES > IRISH SESSION ALES


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