McIlhenney's Irish Red | Alpine Beer Company

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McIlhenney's Irish RedMcIlhenney's Irish Red

Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our most versatile beer. Good to drink as well as cook with. Light enough to quench a thirst and complex enough to accompany fine dining. Caramel malty sweet fades to a chocolate roasty finish and dry from a touch of rye. 1.057 OG 13 IBU

Added by Gusler on 12-19-2002

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Reviews: 77 | Ratings: 270
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.64/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a hazy dark reddish-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, and slight fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, burnt sugar, caramel, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with solid toast and caramel qualities that come through slightly better in the taste to me.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a conical Guinness pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of fantastic cream, beige colour, nice thickness, and good retention. Very appealing. Colour is a semitransparent caramel-red. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Toasted malt, chocolate malt, cream, caramel, vanilla (?), and very subtle fruit notes - I even get a hint of grape in there, and it actually works. Quite dry and musty, suiting the style. I'm getting really excited about trying this. A perfectly subtle mild strength aroma. Quite intriguing.

T: A toasted and caramelized malt backbone immediately sets the tone for this solid Irish red. Some cream up front, with dried bright fruits emerging throughout, blossoming as the second act progresses right into the full-bodied brilliant climax. The third act features diverse fruit flavours, but they should be wrapped up by then. In any case, it's a solidly built beer in the style. I'm impressed. The flavours are balanced nicely; I just wish the stucture was.

Mf: The finish should be coarse and dry, but it is instead quite the opposite. This is the biggest failure of the beer. It's thick but not overly so. Nicely carbonated. Unfortunately, the mouthfeel is wrong for the style and distracts from the flavour.

Dr: A very drinkable Irish red boasting a lot of diverse enjoyable flavours. I don't know that I have had an Irish red this good since Smithwick's. I'd definitely try this on draught; it's as good as most Irish Reds I drank while living in the auld country. Bravo to Alpine.

Low B

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark amber with a nice double-finger head. Some nice lacing as I work my way through the glass. The smell is of sweet malt, and is fairly complex, as is often the style with a good Irish Red Ale. The taste is all malt, with only the faintest hint of hop bitterness. I can definitely see the insane number of different malts in this, as the taste is fairly complex. Nice and medium-bodied and very drinkable, especially for a style that's not one of my favorites.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of mactrail
2.73/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Seems like a lack of inspiration meets a category of low aspirations.

Lemony and fruity, is the best quality. Slight sweetness. Very light bodied. Coppery amber in the glass with a decent head and lacing. Just a little taste of hops. Light all around. Mostly beery with a little murkiness. Totally forgettable. The cask version certainly doesn't add anything to the flavor or mouthfeel.

This makes me wonder about the medals at beer-judged events, if this won gold anything anywhere. I don't see that we, the Great Unwashed horde of BAs, like this so much. On the cask at the Linkery in San Diego.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of billab914
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Founders pint glass. it poured a deep mahogany red color with a thin white head to it. It also had some decent head retention to it as I drank it. Really nice looking color to it overall.

The aroma has a big caramel presence to it with some sweet almost butterscotch candy like flavors to it.

The taste is sweet and malty, just as the nose suggested. Caramel really comes through and a hint of that butterscotch flavor that was in the aroma as well. Just a bit of the dark, chocolaty and roasty flavors come through in the finish and helps it from becoming too sweet.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a little below average carbonation. Drinkability is good, it was a really cool, unique and good beer overall. I really liked all the different malt flavors in it and they all really came together nicely.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.08/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance - Reddish brown body. Small khaki head. A thin collar and some lacing.

Smell - Nutty malts. Caramel. Hint of roasted malt, like chocolate. Some English hops.

Taste - Brighter. More of a hop presence. English hops. Nutty malts. Sweetness builds into the finish.

Mouthfeel - It gets a little sweet. The low bitterness doesn't cut any of it, either. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Not many Irish Reds are very exciting and this is no exception. It is well made, though. No trouble sharing this bomber.

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Photo of stakem
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%
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.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.89/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours red with a medium white head, good retention, some lacing.

S: Toasted malt, caramel, malt-dominated.

T: Quite sweet taste of biscuity toasted malt and caramel. Bit of a spice kick, perhaps from the rye. Hops are very minour, leaving the beer a bit unbalanced IMO. Really close between a 3.5 and 4.

M: Somewhat soapy carbonation, medium-bodied, smooth.

D: A good beer, I really liked the flavour initially, but over the whole 22 oz. the sweetness did become cloying and hard to drink at times. Still looking at the overall picture, it was a nice pint. Glad to try it. A bit more hop character would have helped for sure.

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Photo of corby112
3.66/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft at the brewpub.

Pours a dark golden orange/amber color with a 1.5 finger off white head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lacing left behind.

Sweet malt aroma with lots of caramel, toffee, rye and dark fruits. Subtle hops and estery yeast balance things out a bit.

Fuller bodied than expected with a balance of crisp hops and sweet malts. Hoppier than expected up front with dry spiciness and subtle earthy, floral notes.backing malt backbone with lots of sweetness. Hints of caramel, toffee rye, hazelnut, apricot and other light fruit. Well balanced and very drinkable.

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Photo of Gusler
3/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer as it sets in my glass a limpid mahogany color, the head average in size, frothy in texture. Light tan in color and the lace a decent covering upon the glass. Malt dominates the nose, fresh and clean, sweet as it the malt-laden start; top is skimpy in feel. Finish is lightly carbonated, the hops present and mild in their bite, dry aftertaste, average beer, drinkable and pleasant enough when your into something on the lighter side.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

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Photo of popery
3.37/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, home. This beer is okay, but it's a disappointment coming from Alpine. This beer is bright orange rust in color with a small dissipating head, white. The aroma is a nice mix of malt flavors. It's hard to pick out too many individual malt notes because the caramel dominates, but chocolate and a touch of fruit peak out. Hops are almost nonexistent. The flavor is the real downer. It starts out almost rich and sweet with malt flavors but that quickly fades into an odd mess of sickly sweet and off-kilter light roast bitterness. The mouthfeel is also odd and not so great. I wish that this beer had a bit more hops or a bit more direction with the malt. It's not bad or anything, but this isn't a direction that I particularly like. All that said, I still firmly believe that Alpine is awesome.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
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!

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased during a recent visit to the Alpine Beer Company with fellow BA’s, xlperro, and EyeChartBrew, on 12th July 2003. The McIlhenney’s Irish Red, is one of only three ABC beer’s that are currently bottled (the other two are Pure Hoppiness and Mandarin Nectar). Purchase price was $2.99 for a Bomber.

ABC Name: McIlhenney’s Irish Red.
ABC Description: Dark Red, Malty Ale, Low Hops.
Listed Strength: 6%ABV.

Presentation: A 22 fluid ounce brown glass classic shaped Bomber. It has a very colorful label that is generic in nature. The main label picture has a snow-capped, lush green mountain, with a log cabin beneath. Has the words ‘McIlhenney’s Irish Red’ below the picture. It is very interesting to note that the bottle states 5.6%ABV, whilst the Board in the Sampling Room stated 6%ABV?!

Appearance: Very dark, auburn ruby-red color, when back-lit it had a lovely fiery copper hue. Massive agitated head at first that soon calms down to a decent thick collar, cream in color and very smooth in appearance. It laces well with solid carbonation.

Nose: Sniffing lightly is enough to capture the malts in this Irish Red. Has a sweet aroma dimension to the aroma also.

Taste: Starts with strong rounded Malts that are off-set against a light hop presence. Not quite balanced, the biased is more in favor of the darker malts I find. Sweetish in the middle with some Devon toffee. Dry in the end yet the sweetness leaves a light cloying peanut taste in the malty finish. Light hops are still evident right at the death.

Mouthfeel: Bold mouthfeel, malty balance with a smooth aerated feel on the palate. Solid, but never overpowering.

Drinkability: A nice enough beer that drinks well and I found that I liked the round smoothness of this Red.

Overall: Reds are either harsh Island misnomers or sweet, sickly offerings. This is neither, far from it. The high quality ingredients from the Maris Otter Pale, Munich and Rye Malts, as well as the Pacific NW and European Hops listed all shine through. A very nice Red and a good solid drinking partner.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber, slightly reddish color with a thin light brown head that recedes to a light cap.

S: Some faint citrus hops along with some caramel malts and toffee. A slight nuttiness as well.

T: Taste is almost more along the lines of a nut brown than a red. Big and malty. A hint of orange zest upfront followed quickly by big, nutty malts. Lots of breadiness as well. A decent red, but not as bold as I was hoping for.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

563rd Review on BA
Bottle to Pint

Bottle brought home from Alpine Pub over Memorial Day.

App- When this sat in the glass it looked like wood varnish with a finger and a half of fast receding khaki pancake batter colored head. Left a large amount of sticky lace.

Smell- From a malt aspect its quite dominant with a sweetness that is tamed by a touch of rye. The caramel is faint is well but I hate to say this its kind of corn like in smell.

Taste- Its pretty straight forward malty with a touch of brown sugar and no real chocolate flavors are there more of a walnut nutty/roast taste.

Mouth- The feel is quite thin and high carbed. The residual flavors are a bit adjunt to me. Very let down by feel.

Drink- Im glad I got to bring a bottle home. Normally i really like what Alpine does but this was thin and off flavored for me. I probably wont come back to this one.

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Photo of Zach136
4.31/5  rDev +15.5%
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.

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Photo of hopdog
3.12/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle acquired in trade with DarkElf (thanks!).

Poured a medium and clear brownish color with a smaller sized off white head. Aromas of caramel and fruity. Tastes of pretty much the same - fruitiness and caramel. Some graininess too. Thinner body.

Notes from 12/12/05

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.27/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of Moose90
3.24/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Served On-Tap, 16oz Willibecher Pint

A — Pours a ruby red, slightly dark hue into the glass. There is a nice bit of clarity shown through the beer as well. Nice cream colored head of about 1/2" forms and leaves behind some consistent enough lacing.

S — Smells malty and lightly sweet here, nice notes of caramel, toast, bready malts, lightly doughy and sweet. Not much in the form of hops, just a little bit of a clean crisp pine note in there if you search long enough.

T — Taste is driven by malts and focused on smooth malty sweetness. Nice notes of caramel, bread crust, cracker, crusty bread, little bit of a rye spiciness as well on the finish.

M — Medium bodied, lingering and sticky finish.

O — Pretty good overall, fairly well done, just very mellow and approachable, could have a few of these in a sitting.

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McIlhenney's Irish Red from Alpine Beer Company
3.73 out of 5 based on 270 ratings.
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