Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

McIlhenney's Irish Red - Alpine Beer Company

Not Rated.
McIlhenney's Irish RedMcIlhenney's Irish Red

Educational use only; do not reuse.

74 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 74
Hads: 248
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 19.79%
Wants: 10
Gots: 22 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Irish Red Ale |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Gusler on 12-19-2002

Dark red, malty ale. Eleven different malts, all used to contribute to a complex, malty sweet flavor and aroma. Hops are kept low (10 ibu's) for this multiple medal winner (GABF, World Beer Cup, etc)
Draft & 22oz bottles.
View: Beers (45) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 74 | Hads: 248
Photo of Luisfcarrizo
5/5  rDev +33.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Smelled caramel, chocolate, roasted nuts, toffee, faint coffee malts, dark cocoa, chocolate syrup and light copper. Very impressive for the style. Got chocolate, bitter roasted nuts, caramel, toffee, copper or another metallic malt, dry rye malts and faint coffee malts. Medium body. Oily texture. Average-to-lively carbonation. Nutty, bitter finish.

 350 characters

Photo of salcedo
4.74/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22oz bomber poured into a glass.
L: Deep amber-red color, almost like maple syrup.
Creamy caramel colored head that dissipates quickly.
S: Toasted grain with nice caramel
T: Malty. Sweet with some caramel flavor. The bitterness of the toasted grain balances out the sweetness.
F: Very light body, goes down easily. Lightly carbonated.
O: Nice toasted malt flavor. Would go well with a nice burger or steak

 408 characters

Photo of OStrungT
4.57/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a mohogany color, with a thin white head. The head fades too quickly, leaving minimal laces.

This beer has a malty sweet aroma. I detect some toffee. It boasts a slight nutty aroma also. Almost no hop aroma is present.

This beer has a rich nutty flavor. A strong caramel sweet malt flavor is also present. As with the aroma, the hops are almost non existant.

This beer goes down very smooth, leaving a nutty sweet aftertaste. It is a little undercarbonated in my opinion.

This beer would probably make an excelent session beer. It is not too high in alcohol, and the flavor is good and not too aggressive.

Overall: I am happy to have had this as my 300th review. I am surprised that I have never had this beer before. It is good, and I definately plan to make it a regular in my beer fridge.

 823 characters

Photo of ETF5000
4.53/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at Pizza Port Bottle Shop in Carlsbad, CA

A- Pours a nice dark amber color with about 2 fingers of light nougat colored head. Perfect for an Irish Red as far as I'm concerned.

S- Malty sweetness is the first thing that comes to mind here. Very caramely, with a touch of roastiness and a very mild hop charactaristic on the end.

T- Wonderful! I'm not a huge Irish Red drinker, but I have to say I really enjoyed this one. Great malty sweetness, with a tinge of hop to cleanse the palate and balance the sweetness. Some people find the beer to be a tad cloying, but I thought it was a perfect balance.

M- Great carbonation. Nothing really to point out here!

D- Although not a session beer in my opinion, I could drink a couple of these babies over a couple of hours. Truly, this is a new favorite of mine from Alpine. Good work guys!

 843 characters

Photo of PZBREW
4.52/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Caramel and sweet but still dry. Could drink a few more. Very easy to drink and not intense but that's a good way. Would drink six packs of this in the fall and enjoy sweet aroma.

 179 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Great looking beer. Deep crystal ruby colored body in a glass. Faint microscopic carbonation all through with a faint matching tan color. Tan color continues to the head, slightly bigger than 2 fingers tall and leaves a simple thin puck. Great looking beer.

The sticky classic malts are all over this on the nose even as I pour. Mild sweet caramel, hints at cherry fruit strangely and some cinnamon spice. Where is that normally on an Irish Ale? Boy that's unexpected. Some nice dried clove like spices round out.

Probably one of the most unique tasting Irish ales I've had. Surprisingly light malt depth, but with a perfectly silky nearly creamy texture. Flavors hint from the nose, lots of the toasted brown spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and so forth. But very light and with a fleeting aftertaste that really hints of toasted brown bread and pumpernickel almost. Caramel comes in with a bit of warmth and brings some vanilla like cream as well.

Overall just a real fine easy drinking Irish ale, it's nearly perfect.

 1,074 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a far this sits a shadowy dark blood red, up to the light it has a wonderfully clear ruby brown tinted body. The cap is small and faintly thick with a light stained ivory color. Minimal lacing sticks in small globuals.

Nice aroma of candy bar chocolate and caramel with a wiff of subdued cherry-like fruityness and vanilla.

Taste is outstanding for an Irish Red. Complexingly delicate and well rounded flavors of malty fruityness bringing a partial red apple and date filling, feathered in vanilla cherry coke without the overly sweetness or active carbonation. Mild but fulfilling with a calming smooth character. Great finish of lightly dry candy bar chocolate and caramel swirling off into a return of some malty fruits and vanilla.
Tthe mouthfeel of this beer is awesome. Big full smooth body. Succulantly easy to quaff. Its smoothness is like no other Irish Red I've ever encountered. Its milding charm is very enthralling and the finish is spectacular.

My kind of beer. Tasty, well rounded, smooth, full, candyish with chocolate and caramel with a sweet fruity center that helps keep a terrific balance. Damn good stuff!

 1,141 characters

Photo of Zach136
4.31/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clear deep red, light beige head.

Aroma: Raison nut bread and melanoidin.

Flavor: More roasted, nutty, melanodin, less dark fruit than the nose.

Mouthfeel: Medium+, but still very easy drinking.

 209 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a very nice looking creamy looking and off-white head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is a very good looking deep red amber that is clear. The beer looks very nice with the hue and clarity and the head is also appealing.

The smell is very nice even if it is a bit malty for the style. The strongest note is primarily the malt smell. The smell comes off a nice and strongly nutty with slight toffee notes. When cooler, the beer has a slight tea note that is quickly covered up by the nutty smell. There is also a very light hop note that is also covered by the nutty malt smell.

The taste is a bit different from the smell. The strong nutty malt note is still present but not as strong as it is in the smell. The hops and tea notes come out a bit stronger and are more present in the taste. The hop bitterness is very light and a bit floral.

The feel is pretty good. While it is a medium bodied beer, the beer is fairly smooth bordering on slightly creamy. Biting carbonation also gives the beer a bit of texture. Slightly dry finish.

Overall, a pretty Irish Red that I hope to come back to. While it's not very tea-like, it does have a good malt presence. Recommend.

 1,194 characters

Photo of Auraan
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a clear red body with a thin tan head. Overall impression of appearance is of a perfect Irish red ale. Scents of toasted malt, caramel and notes of toffee at moderate levels. Overall impression of aroma is of a malt forward pint, very true to style for an Irish Red. Flavor begins malty and sweet with a caramel quality and medium-light notes of toasted malt, along with light English hop flavors. Middle gains a dry quality, deriving from roasted malt, with flavors of lightly roasted malt and toasted malt. Finish is dry with light flavors of roasted malt and slightly burnt toast and a hint of caramel. Aftertaste is dry with notes of toasted malt, light roasted malt and a hint of hop bitterness. Overall impression of flavor is of a simple, malt-forward, well-crafted Irish red, true to style and pleasant. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation and a smooth, creamy feel, ending slick. Overall impression of mouthfeel is of a perfectly to style Irish red. Overall this is a fantastic pint. It hits all aspects of the style perfectly, and while it is not the most complex, rich or "deep" beer, it is a fantastic example of an easy drinking, oft overlooked pub ale. Highly recommend.

 1,206 characters

Photo of m1ked
4.21/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh pour at SD Toronado while waiting for a sausage.

A- This pours a clear rusty caramel red. Without being fire engine red, this is as red as I have seen a red. Brief white foamy head that transforms to a thin white rim.

S- Sweet carmel-ish malts. A slight and barely detectable bitter note.

T- Mmmmm. This where this guy shines. Sweet carmel malts with some creamy nutty honey flavor. Touch of vanilla notes.

M- Smooth. Lightly coats the tongue. Late hit on the carbonation that does not distract.

D- I have recently realized that I like reds. For me this is the measuring stick.

 589 characters

Photo of JTahoe
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nearly garnet red with orange tones, one finger off-white head reduces fairly quickly but leaves enough lace hanging around to be respectable. Looking really nice for the style.

S - Malty sweet with hints of tropical fruit, perhaps a whiff of piña colada... interesting

T - Caramel malts dominate. Some fruitiness coming through... a hint of pineapple... but this fades about half way in. Some toasted nuts, and cocoa begin to come subtly into play along with just the lightest hint of citric bitterness. Very clean all the way through.

M - Medium body leaning just slightly towards medium-full. a nice velvety smoothness, just a touch of creamy feel. Carbonation is perfect.

D - A really nice beer all around, perhaps my favorite Irish Red. Very very well made.

 771 characters

Photo of CRJMellor
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to xlperro for grabbing me a bomber.
Pours a copper color with some red tints. Small light tan head dies very quickly.
Aroma of caramel with rich bread notes and some roasted nuttiness.
Flavor has a big caramel front, wheat bread tones and some resined hops on the finish.
Mouthfeel is medium-boided and mildly sweet with a mellow roasted feel.
Drinkability is very good. Great transitions between flavors and progression of sweet, roast and bitter.

 461 characters

Photo of
4.06/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle.

Poured a beautiful, clear copper color. Topped by a large, creamy, light tan head.

Aroma was malt and yeast. Spicy, pepper, maybe rye?. Earthy. Minimal hops.

Fairly sweet -- molasses and a touch of chocolate. Hops are there, herbal, mainly at the finish. Biscuity.

Medium in body, medium carbonation. Very refreshing, not drying at all.

Very drinkable. I am surprised by the restraint shown with respect to the hops. This beer drank almost like an English Brown Ale. Hope to have this again someday.

 528 characters

Photo of rand
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at O'Brien's San Diego leftover from St Patty's Day

Normally I don't mention other reviews, but just scanning some other entries it's obvious people don't like Irish Reds. They're far from my go-to style either, but it seems the average-ish scores (for an Alpine brew) are largely due to the unpopularity of the style.

That being said, living in the land of hop bounty, sometimes a brew like this hits the spot. Or it at least allows you to enjoy delicious IPAs if by contrast. Either way, this is throwing back pretty easy right now.

A: The brew is a mahogany-red in color, clear, served with a nice 1-inch frothy head.

S: Bready bouquet, sweet, like squaw bread. There's a candied, almost cherry sweetness, along with some husky grain and a touch of alcohol.

T/M: A chewy, bready complexion carries toffee sweetness, with the cherry aspect detected in the nose more pronounced here. Toasted grainy with notes of dry grass and a touch of hop astringency balancing at the back of the palate, keeping in line with the style. Finishes long and sweet.

 1,064 characters

Photo of SensorySupernova
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Really pretty red, crystal clear, with a rocky off-white head.

Smell: Herbal hops, a little malty.

Taste: Smooth malts, caramel. Hops are a bit spicy, herbal. Pretty moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Moderately thick and well carbonated.

Overall: Refreshing and tasty! This is a very easy-drinking beer.

 317 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A red ale far better than it's scores here. So sweet that alpine stuff us showing up at the best tap houses, hopefully a sign of more to come. This has some hops to it, but is a marked departure from all the other IPA type beer I've had from them so far. Dark brick red, muted luster, creamy darker than khaki head, wonderful carbonation. It smells less Irish, not much yeast profile, and plenty of pine hops on it. Dome sweetness to the red malt base, but not heavy and lingering like others in this genre, and way short of heavy caramels. Earthy, fresh baked, birch, toffee, molasses, and wet pine wood are all there in the taste, but the finish is crazy clean, drier than expected, and really a whole lot more complex overall than almost any other I have had in this family. Some alpine hasn't made it to the hype levels out there, but this one is better than it's ratings here. Awesome example of the style and a model for others.

 934 characters

Photo of Kegatron
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Downtown Johnny Brown's (San Diego, CA) on 3/18/09. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear deep amber with a finger of foamy off-white (nearly tan) head. Retains with a thin creamy look, that flares up nicely, drenching the sides of the glass with lace. The aroma has a good bit of substance to for an Irish Red. Lots of toasted malts and caramel sweetness in the nose, along with a nice and fresh floral feel.

The taste packs the same robust mix, with toasted bready malts, caramel, with a touch of zesty citrus character thrown in for good measure. There is a more moderate hop profile present. It's enough to balance the profile but pulls back just enough to also allow the malts to really shine. Sweetness and citrus linger past the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied wiht a nice easy carbonation and overall smooth feel. Very drinkable for a 6% beer.

This one took me by surprise a bit. Nicely flavored for an Irish Red and the drinkibility was right on! I didn't get to drink any "Irish" beers the day before on St. Patties Day, so this was a nice belated pint to celebrate with.

 1,104 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."

--William Butler Yeats

Glazed terra cotta with bright tangerine edges. A standard pour yields a three finger cap of golden tan that is tight-bubbled and firmly creamy. It's a perfect color complement to the beer on which it sits and is a more than respectable lace generator. A classic Irish red ale look.

The nose is toasted malty, earthy and some kind of nutty. In some ways it reminds me of an Oktoberfest. I wouldn't be surprised if Munich malt was in the house. Unfortunately, there's no hint of the rye malt that was used. Perhaps things will be different on the palate.

McIlhenny's Irish Red is good beer because it's well-malted and because it's bursting with flavor. Alpine is one of those breweries that isn't afraid to deliver aggressiveness, even in a so-called session beer. An ABV of 6.0% might disqualify it as a session beer, but it sure is a drinkable son of an Irishman.

I like the fact that, in addition to plenty of malt, there's a greater proportion of the darker malts. That design decision gives the beer cocoa notes (pumpernickel bread) to go along with the usual toasted barley, steely caramel and oven-baked nuts. Spicy rye malt, an inspired addition, is now easily appreciated.

Apparently, there aren't many hops present (10 IBUs). Could have fooled me. This bottle has to be incredibly fresh because I'm really enjoying their English Breakfast tea leaf-like flavor and bitterness. This is anything but an overly sweet, sticky Irish red. In fact, it's very nicely balanced.

The mouthfeel is as expected given the talent at this brewery. It's no more than light-medium with an underlying suppleness that doesn't fade on the swallow. To be brief, the mouthfeel matches the flavor profile perfectly.

Other than Mandarin Nectar (which is okay), I have been supremely impressed by Alpine beer. Pure Hoppiness is one of the best DIPAs that I've ever had and Alpine Ale is a damn fine APA. McIlhenny's Irish Red may not be in their league, but it's a well-brewed version of the style and would be my choice for St. Patrick's Day if I lived in Southern California.

 2,214 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a growler into a pint glass, this brew pours a clear reddish amber with a half inch of porous off white head. Retention is short as it settles quickly into a surface cap yielding random strings of lacing.

Smell is of roasted caramel malts, a bit smoky in fact. Yet clean and uncluttered as I sense this brew isn't overly sweet for the style. A notable hop presence blends well with the roastiness of the brew.

Taste confirms my suspicions and offers a welcome light yet complex malt flavor. Roasty up front, segueing to a clean finish and a dry aftertaste. Hop bitterness is less than anticipated given the nose. Offers a good carbonation level which fits the beer well. Drinkability is above average for the style due to the relative lightness of the malts. A nice Irish Red that doesn't smother things with excessive malt notes.

 838 characters

Photo of stakem
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to BdubleEdubleRUN for the generous extra in our Alpine beer trade. Poured from a bomber into a snifter, this brew appears a clear amber red with a creamy yellowish tan head. It fades slowly holding close to the edge of the glass leaving spotty lace. A swirl revives the cap back to a finger of tan coloration.

The aroma of this brew is hoppy with a fruity scent. Plenty of noticeable alcohol fuels the fruity esters. There is a noticeable amount of sweet smelling toasty caramel malt that balances out the fruited aspect of the hops and alcohol. There is almost a vanilla-like sweetness that comes out as the brew warms. Overall very fruity sweet smelling.

The taste is toasty caramel malt that is thick and toasty with a sweet flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of vanilla. A little bit of a grassy aftertaste from the hops and a mild alcohol warmth. The grassy hop aftertaste is balanced with the residual flavor of toasted malt.

This is an easy drinking brew. It is medium bodied with a modest amount of carbonation. Very smooth throughout with plenty of malt and balancing hop flavors. A very solid representation of the style, I would drink this again.

 1,170 characters

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass

A- Three finger frothy head that dissipates slowly, lacing sticks to the side, medium carbonation, dark brown bronze color.
S- Sweet malts up front, caramel, hints of fruit very appealing aroma.
T- Nice spiciness, sweet taste, brown sugar, malt backbone, very surprising beer, raisin, and caramel.
M- Medium mouth feel, moderate carbonation.
O- Very surprising beer, did not know what to expect, very sweet, wonderful malt characteristic, very easy drinkability, a perfect beer to have for dessert.

 545 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint glass.

A: Clear, light reddish-amber color with over one finger of diminishing off-white foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Toasted bread and grain, not as much caramel as the appearance might suggest, with some faint tangerine citrus occasionally emerging.

T: Begins barely off-dry, malty with bread and caramel. A fruity quality that reminds of maraschino cherries is also present early, likely formed by a combination of yeast esters, crystal malt, and careful hopping. Acidity is well-balanced here, perhaps even remarkably so. Vanilla ice cream is detected in the middle, where some of the other previously-noted flavors fade considerably. The finish is dry, slightly bitter, and even leathery at times.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, fluid on the palate--even occasionally creamy--with moderate carbonation.

D: Alpine brews a few different amber ales--this one, as well as Alpine ale--that are remarkably similar. This Irish red ale is malt-forward, never extreme, and just what one might expect from one of Alpine's less abundantly-hopped beers. It pairs well with a variety of food flavors, reminding at times of New Belgium's ubiquitous Fat Tire--but with less overbearing biscuit flavor than that other beer.

 1,275 characters

Photo of scottfrie
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into SN tulip pint glass.
A: Pours a dark woody brown with a finger of tan head that slowly faded into a thick film that left thick rings of lacing down the glass. A few flakes of white yeast came out with the last pour.
S: Huge notes of orange-cream ice-cream similar to a Flintstones Pushup Pop (you remember those). I get notes of orange zest, caramel, wood, toffee, nuts and tangerines.
T: Follows the nose almost exactly although the creamy flavor is toned down a bit. I also get a hint of rye. The finish is very nutty and the aftertaste is spicy with hardly any bitterness to it.
M: Medium-thick body with a slick mouthfeel and soft even carbonation.
O: Wonderful malty flavors. Really refreshing and enjoyable, and thankfully not super sweet.

 766 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There's more to Alpine Brewing that just the hops. To pay my respects, I venture to the malty side. Coming from a 22 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

The beer rests in the chalice a dark cherrywood color, topped with a semi-creamy head which retains well. As a bonus, the sight of whisped lace circling the glass doesn't seem to end. It smells like fruit snacks, pleasant fruity esters, toasty, earthy. Smells nice.

McIlhenney's brings respect to the Irish Red Ale. The beer won't blast your palate with a mélange of succulent flavors, but this beer combines easy drinking with a modest, well balanced flavor. The beer has toasty and sweet notes, pleasing fruity esters, and a wee note which reminds me of kilned malt. The beer has a creamy and smooth mouthfeel, and as typed earlier is easy drinking.

This is a sleeper in Alpine's year round lineup. The malt mouth in all of us should give McIlhenney's Irish Red a chance.

 926 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
McIlhenney's Irish Red from Alpine Beer Company
84 out of 100 based on 74 ratings.