Portsmouth Murphy's Law Red Ale | Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Murphy's Law Red AlePortsmouth Murphy's Law Red Ale

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The eponymous creation of our former Head Brewer, Paul Murphy, is a full-bodied ale whose ruby color and toasty sweetness result from the generous use of caramel malt, balanced by four hop additions, including a dry hopping in the conditioning tank.

22 IBU

Added by Bierman9 on 03-15-2003

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Reviews: 29 | Ratings: 48
Photo of edward_boumil
3.91/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the brewpub itself.
Poured a very dark red, nearly brown colored ale. Little head, no lace. Aroma and taste are quite nice, tons of roasty cereal malt, also is very fruity and sweet which are aspects of red ales that I really enjoy. Has a touch of dryness as well to bring balance to the beer. Is also quite smooth and sessionable, so it goes back nice and easy but brings the flavor
All around a very nice example of the style, one of the better ones I've tried as of late.

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Photo of jneiswender
4.46/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served from growler into mug. Light cola body and a off white head. Smell is of yeast and chocolate and fruit. Taste is fruity and finishes bitter. Medium carbonation. Nice beer

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Photo of Back_in_the_Saddle
3.74/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a soft hazy burnt amber color with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated at a nice pace. Lacing was stringy and messy.
The smell started off with some roasty to toasty caramel malts with some light nuts hitting underneath the nose appropriately.
The taste was moderately sweet with an ample amount of bitter from some earthy and spicy hops. Malts and nuttiness come back nicely to cling in the aftertaste and finish.
The mouthfeel was about medium bodied with a nice sessionable feel to it. Carbonation is relaxed allowing a crisp sweetness to lay down on my tongue.
Overall, as an Irish red ale, I'd say this one works.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
2.76/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Chilled 22 oz. Bomber into 16 oz. shakers. Best by date June 2014, although it was purchased at the brewery last weekend.

Look- extremely cloudy deep amber-red. Pours with two fingers of whipped almond cream head. Falls quickly, minimal lacing. The hue would be spot on if it wasn't opaque.

Smell- Nice, if subdued. toasted caramel and honey, slightly dusty.

Taste- well, it is almost the best-by date. Nonetheless, this seems over- oxidized, a little beefy and ashy. Raisin and rye toast dominate, a little sweetness and black tea. Finishes with a yeasty French bread flavor.


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Photo of Florida9
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Very dark brown-tinted red in color. Forms a rather smallish, creamy, tannish colored head that reduces to just the faintest of surface coatings and leaves just a trace of lacing.

S: Aroma is very creamy, with notes of sweet caramel, bread, and just a touch of toast, along with a very faint hint of green apple.

T: Taste is very malty. Lots of caramel. Moderately sweet. A little toast or roasted malt. There is a slight bit of citrus on the finish, but the hops are quite restrained on this one.

M: Malty with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel to it. Mild to moderate bitterness, though there is a slight soapiness on the finish. Lower carbonation.

O: A fairly standard - and fairly unexciting - Irish ale.

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Photo of Thorpe429
1.92/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle shared by TurdFurgison. Thanks, Eric! Pours a reddish-amber color with a short off-white head and a bit of lacing. The nose carries some amber malt and faint hops along with a pretty decent amount of diacetyl, which carries over into the flavor. Very disappointing. Buttered bread. I would not have this one again. Hopefully it was just an off bottle.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.69/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a perfect pint glass.

Pours dark brown with hints of red throughout. Sharp caramel smell that really jumps out. light sweet taste with very low carbonation. Smooth. Some toffee taste with a falvorful hop. Id like a little more carbonation and bite, but a good beer.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-cask w/Magnum, served in a pint glass

Pours a chilled mahogany color with a creamy tan head that was a little over two fingers. Good retention as the head fell to about half a finger and never fully disappeared.

The aroma is of toasted biscuits, toffee/caramel, tea leaves, and some grassy hops.

The magnum hops really come out in the flavor profile, adding a pleasing bitterness. Toasted malt up front with toffee and earthy tones through the middle. Dry tea leaves show up in the finish before a sweeping mild bitterness from the magnum hops.

Medium body, clean, good carbonation. The addition of magnum really boosts the overall profile of this beer. Adding a solid layer of hop bitterness.

This is a fine Irish Red. Clean, malty, with a manageable abv---borderline sessionable. The magnum addition does wonders for this beer.

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Photo of farrago
3.32/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

You get about a finger of light eggshell white foam, island of larger bubbles in the middle, fades away at a steady clip, a few splotches of lacing but that’s it. Coppery orange brown color of average clarity, turns a yellow hue around the rims, broadly scattered large bubbles, nothing close to beads. Molasses, milk chocolate, honey and sweet bread dough fill the nose, some cola and then pine sap, not a great deal of hoppiness happening here, conversely truly not as sweet as the various elements make it sound, has pretty good length. Medium-bodied, creamy mouth feel with a lot of carbonation which tends to diffuse the flavors and contributes to a drying finish, where a metallic side comes through. Otherwise, it’s a basic array of cocoa, caramel, malt, butterscotch and toffee with a touch of café au lait. The grains are sweet with a light toasted quality, again the hops remain in the background. Moment of peach or apricot pit or fig. Whisper of earthiness and matted straw. Overall, on the sweetish side for its type but friendly enough.

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Photo of jmarsh123
2.45/5  rDev -31%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours brown with a reddish hue and a small bubbly head leaving moderate lacing.

Aroma consists of sweet toffee notes along with an almost rye like spiciness. Not many hops.

Holy malt bomb. Starts out sweet and finishes even sweeter with an almost sickly sweet brown sugar aftertaste. Not many hops at all to be found.

Mouthfeel is too light the lower carbonation enhances the sweetness.

This was pretty awful. One note and that note isn't even good. Way too sweet and nothing at all remotely interesting going on here.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.44/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two finger khaki head that fades very slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Nice clear red/amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Light malt nose and flavor is toasted malt and a hint of caramel. $5.95 for a 22oz bottle from the brewery in Portsmouth, NH.

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Photo of u2carew
3.89/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber
A) Pours with a very thin head. Hazy amber colored body.
S) Robust malty nose - caramel, buttered toast.
T) Malt bomb! A delicious malt bomb at that. Caramel. Toasted grains. Hints of butterscotch. Dry grainy notes in the finish along with some hop bitterness.
M) Crisp. Clean. Medium body.
O) Delicious. Initial appearance had me a bit worried by the aroma and taste turned that around. I would definitely drink another one of these!

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.66/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle bought 2/18/12

Pours a dark amber color with a good sized fluffy off-white head, fades at a slow rate and leaves a cap on top for a good while, only bits of lacing on the glass.

Smell is malty, slightly toasted, bit of a breadiness to it.

Taste is fairly one note but that's not necessarily bad in this case, toasted malt up front, hops are muted, balanced flavor with a decent creaminess, carbonation spot on.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thank you again to CooperEllis for nabbing me some bottles at the brewery.

a - i always love the brown bag no frills vibe to portsmouth brews, but this one seems to actually have it's own label, but with the brown bag vibe. opened the bottle and filled my portsmouth tulipy snifter. poured a nice maroon orange. transparent with a bit of a brownish tint. not much head and semi slick lacing. swirling the glass rebuilds a bit.

s - nice soft toasted malt. nutmeg. nicely balanced, but as you'd expect for the style rather subdued.

t - much like the nose...toasted malts. green tea. malt bomb.

m - medium bodied good carbonation. malt bomb.

o - overall, not my favorite style, but this beer is true to style. it didn't blow me away, but wasn't bad.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.68/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the brewpub.

A - Pours a clear crimson red, white head, thin collar, thin cap.

S - Toasted malts, slight malty sweetness, touch of hops.

T - Similar to the nose. Nice malts, hops, and bready rye notes. The sweetness isn't there as much as the nose. Pretty straight-forward to the style, enjoyable.

M - Light, good carbonation, semi dry finish.

O - One of my favorites while at the brewpub. Very straight forward and to style, which I enjoy.

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Photo of sethmeister
3.88/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a growler filled at the bar 2 days ago.

Clear mahogany body with a creamy tan head. Well laced.

Scent is caramel, bread and toasted notes.

Taste is dense sweet chewy caramel. Toffee. Rich sweet malts. Toasted flavors. Hops are mild here - just a touch of bittering and a slightly earthy / spicy flavor. Fruity esters.

Mouth is a creamy and substantial medium.

A very satisfying example of the style.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.08/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub.
Pours a deep reddish brown color with a thinnish white head that dissipates quickly to a ring on the top. Smells of toffee and brown sugar with an herbal earthy edge. Taste is sweet bready malts with lots of toffee, and sweet sugar and a hint of butterscotch. Just enough earthy hops to cut through the sweet malts. Finish is kind of dry with a lingering toffee sweetness. Medium body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet almost sticky mouthfeel. Nice simple English style ale, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

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Photo of jlindros
3.8/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Brewpub.

Creamy 1 finger head fades slowly lacing, reddish copper brown almost auburn crystal clear.

Nose toasty reddish malts, light sweet crystal malts, light earthy touch herbal grassy hops.

Taste starts with plenty of malts, toasted, chewy, almost straw farmhouse rustic malts, again lighter earthy slight grassy herbal hops, bit of bitterness, pretty dry overall. Finishes still dry but not too much, light lingering toasty malts and herbal grassy hops.

Moth is med bodied, dec carb.

Overall pretty good, nice rustic toasty malt profile, nice earthy herbal hops and not too bitter, maybe a touch more sweetness would have helped.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.2/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to Alex for busting out this brew to help end my weary day of traveling.

A - It pours an auburn-umber hue, and is capped with a creamy-looking white froth, depositing spotty lace.

S - The nose is sweetly roasty, with caramel, burnt sugar and toasted grain leading the way. There is also a fair amount of earthy hoppiness, and a vague hint of peat. Mellow and enjoyable.

T - The taste follows the cue of the nose, and offers light toffee and caramel, some earthy hop, English Ale yeasty fruitiness and an overall sublime balance of the elements involved.

M - The feel is just about at medium, and is softly carbonated; enhancing.

O - This beer is gone so quick; I have about an ounce left to tick by the time I'm thinking about it. Deliciously balanced, and not aggressively positioned in any direction; this brew is exceptional, overall.

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Photo of MasterSki
4/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Reagan1984. Served in a pint glass.

A - Pours with a half-finger of white foam that settles to a thin partial cap, thicker collar, and some spotty lace. Transparent brownish red color.

S - Fruity UK ale yeast, lightly toasted malts, hint of smoke, toffee and treacle, and some lightly herbal and earthy hops. Pretty accurate take on the style.

T - A nice mix of toffee and treacle malt, fruity esters, bread and lightly toasted grains, and a touch of hop bitterness.

M - Medium body, smooth texture, medium carbonation, no alcohol, and a lightly roasty finish.

D - This is the strongest Portsmouth beer I've had in a while. I know Greg has been slightly frustrated with the selection at the gift shop whenever he rolls through town - this one was pretty good Greg! I'd have it again if I were in the mood for a nice Irish Red Ale. It's like a less hoppy Brian Boru.

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Photo of muttyd
3.85/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sharing a bottle with the wife.

Pours a reddish/brown with a white/beige head that persists throughout. Toasted cinnamon & sugar bread, grainy, and slight caramel in the nose. Flavor is similar to nose; bready malts, french toast?, black tea, earthy hops. Very malt-forward. I am a big fan of the mouthfeel that is common among Portsmouth brews, so this is spot-on; moderate carbonation without being too prickly. I imagine this would pair well with a toasted french bread with olive oil & rosemary dip. Excellent beer from one of my favorite brew pubs.

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Photo of ThirstyBird
3.55/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Roman70!
Poured from Bomber into pint glass
A - Pours red/amber, clear with a small light tan head that stays for a bit.
S - Sweet candied sugar malts up front, touch of hops, a touch of butter
T - Malty up front then kind of rich and buttery. A little bitter on the back end,
M/F - Very smooth with carbonation slightly on the light side. Medium body.
D - Decent easy drinking red though it didn't strike me as special in any one way.

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Photo of william5586
3.79/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was able to get this on tap during a recent trip to Portsmouth, but I had had a few drinks already that day and decided to buy a bomber and wait to review based on that.

Poured form a bomber into an imperial pint.

A- Poured a deep dark red with almost no head. I poured pretty hard for the second glass and got about a half a finger of head that disappeared pretty quickly.

S- Sweet malt and tea.

T- Very sweet malt and tea like tastes dominates. There was a very very slight bitterness but it was much more on the sweet side. The finish was dry, grainy, and very slightly bitter.

M- Very smooth medium body with low carbonation.

D- Very easy to drink session beer. The sweetness might get to me after a few however.

Overall this was a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.83/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber ( Thanks Joe!) to a pint++ glass (Ha, I picked up a nice 20z glass. LOL) the liqiud is red and has good carbonztion. The head is smallish but creamy, off white and leave some lace.

The smell is sweet caramel malt, semi grainy.

The taste follows, nice sweet grainy malt, peppery and woody, nicely complex. Really quite a nice brew.

The mouthfeel is good, big body and good carbonation.

The drinkability is great, this is a must try craft offering. Prosit, MK

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Photo of DIM
3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: This was a medium amber color with golden edges. It poured with a smallish, short lived, sticky head.

s: Sweet malts that smelled of simple syrup and peaty caramel. Some mild, grassy hop aromas as well.

t: Sweet up front, but not at all cloying. Caramel malt flavors with a little vanilla and a hint of peatiness. Dry, grassy, floral hops at the finish.

m: Surprisingly creamy for a small beer. Smooth, soft carbonation compliment the body nicely.

d: Thanks to joepais for another in a long line of quality brews from Portsmouth. I would love to have this as a local offering.

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Portsmouth Murphy's Law Red Ale from Portsmouth Brewery
3.55 out of 5 based on 48 ratings.
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