Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale | Smithwick's Brewery / Irish Ale Breweries Ltd

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Kilkenny Irish Cream AleKilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Brewed by:
Smithwick's Brewery / Irish Ale Breweries Ltd

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Now brewed here:

Added by Todd on 05-08-2002

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Reviews: 150 | Ratings: 386
Photo of stpracer
3.91/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at an Irish pub in New Castle, Pa.
Standard Irish pint glass.

Pours a reddish brown color that did a reverse cascade. About a one finger creamy head that stayed to the bottom.

Smell is very light and mild. No beer smell.

Creamy taste and smooth creamy mouthfeel. There's a light caramel red taste. Very smooth and enjoyable.

A great lighter - dark beer. Great for the spring/summer.

Serving type: on-tap

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Photo of spdyfire83
2.77/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

188th Review
Served in a glass
On-tap at The Brazen Head

A: Medium copper. 1.5 (creamy, off-white) fingernail head.

S: Not too much happening in the nose here, but after much searching I found some vanilla, caramel, and hint of malt. Kind of boring.

T: Very sweet caramel and sticky toffee up-front followed by smooth, balanced bitterness. Not too much else going on here though. Again, quite boring. Sweetness is a bit too much for my liking though.

M: Light/medium bodied with so smooth carbonation. Creamy, oh so creamy. Definitely the highlight of the beer!

O: The lack of aroma and taste of this beer is a bummer because it looks proper and drinks amazingly smooth. It drinks very, very smooth and is quite refreshing; however, not overly enjoyable. Reminds me of drinking cream soda as a kid growing up (good memories), but I'll pass on this going forward as it is too sweet for me.

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Photo of mikechance
2.93/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on nitro-tap at Kinnee O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in El Dorado Hills, CA.

I have never heard of the beer. The waitress described it as a lighter version of Guinness.

A --- Dark red, mahogany, nice but not as dark as I expected. Very little head.

S --- Hint of malts but not much of anything.

T --- Watery, but smooth. A little sweetness in the malts, but nothing that stands out.

M --- Smooth, creamy and silky --- the best feature of the beer. Very little carbonation.

O --- On a warm/hot day it would be a pretty good beer, but it's not one I would go back to very often. I think my wife would love it!

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Photo of Damian
2.8/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on nitro-tap at Vaughan's Public House, Hartford, CT
Served in a Kilkenny pint glass

A one-finger head of super tight and creamy, off-white foam topped the turbulent liquid. The head was reverse cascading and eventually settled to a thick, lasting film. The liquid beneath the head revealed a crystal clear, copper colored body. Thin rings of lacing stuck along the sides of the glass. Quite impressive.

The nose was rather muted. With a thick cap of froth, the only nuances I picked up initially were dry, powdery, yeasty ones. As the head receded, a touch of biscuity malts appeared.

Toasted malts dominated the rather simplistic flavor profile. Touch of caramel. Dry, powdery and minerally notes were also apparent. The finish was surprisingly crisp and hoppy. Earthy and moderately bitter. The hops were typical European bittering hops (most likely Fuggles), but they were used in greater quantity than I anticipated.

The mouthfeel was quite disappointing, especially for a beer poured from a nitro-tap. It was thin and watery with a very subtle carbonation. Far less smooth and creamy than than most nitro beers.

I decided to try Kilkenny ale tonight because it was the only offering at the bar that I had yet to sample, and apparently I discovered why this beer not more popular.

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Photo of Ruds
2.71/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from tap into a Kilkenny glass at the Kings Head pub in Galway, Eire

Coppery-light brown in colour with a small white head

Sweet aroma on the nose but not a great deal going on other than a little malt and sugar

Tastewise verges on a sweet but a (and certainly not rich in this respect) caramel flavour is present and a very faint bubblegum taste. Not a lot of bitterness if any? - an easy drinking beer if you wish!

A creamy mouthfeel and drinking experience to boot with little carbonation

Overall - I had not tried this beer for perhaps 15 to 20 years and did so largely because I was getting bored of Guinness! I would only drink this again in similar circumstances and will not be seeking it out!

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Photo of KTCamm
3.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at an Irish pub in NYC. Standard Irish pint glass.

Pours a reddish brown color, with a perpetual creamy head that really survives the entire meal.

Smell is nonexistent - very mild "beer smell" if anything.

Incredibly creamy taste and smooth creamy mouthfeel. There's a light caramel red taste, and little bitter if any. Smooth throughout.

A very enjoyable afternoon beer.

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Photo of weissbierdrinker
3.66/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a amber red color with a nice foamy heady.
Has a woody sweet malty tinge.
Taste is slightly sweet up front but then quickly changes to a malty dry finish.
Very easy drinking beer and very popular as well. Had my first in Amsterdam. I'm surprised it's not been added. I could drink this stuff all night and night get bored.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ginger sort of brown with a mother-of-pearl head of very dense bubbles that sits like a gelatinous mass on top, not going anywhence. Has a huge reverse cascade when first poured and leaves some leopard-skin lacing down the glass. Very nice.

Smells sweet and pleasant, with Irish cream, a hint of nutmeg and a slight tartness, kind of a white wine vinegar character. Not the most complex nose, but very nice all the same.

Taste is similarly sweet with a creamy, velvety mouthfeel. Has a slightly bitter pang to the mid-palate but finish and linger are creamy and soft. Main palate tastes of that Irish cream with a slight herb flavour and a distinct vinegar acidity on the back. Mouthfeel is so smooth, one might expect it to be sweeter. It is interesting and rewarding though, but not as quaffable as it may have been. Still very pleasant drinking, and a great after-dinner drop.

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Photo of biegaman
2.49/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I used to be entertained by what ensues from the pouring of a nitro-can. The dizzying dance of bubbles, the grading scheme of colours and shifting balance of lofty foam; it really is a spectacle, albeit an unauthentic one. Nevertheless, this seesawed carbonation reveals a lovely rusty caramel tone and a head unsurpassed in terms of creaminess.

It's too bad the aroma doesn't offer as much to the senses. Actually, it offers virtually nothing to the senses. The beer's appearance suggests something sweet, malty and lightly toasted with a gooey abundance of caramel. Alas, its aroma - or lack there of - implies none of the above and offers little except a stale, easily overlooked hint of corn adjunct.

The body doesn't seem to correspond to its appearance either; it is anemically thin. There is virtually no maltiness and thus little to provide texture or taste. The aftertaste is essentially non-existent and even sitting on the palate there is nothing to distinguish the beer apart from water; it isn't sweet nor bitter. It is entirely featureless.

And apart from that mass of artificial cream, your palate would sense little of anything drinking this beer. The only thing I can make out, apart from that cream precluding each sip, is a slight mineral tinge. Otherwise, I wrestle to find any likeness to flavour. Given it bears almost no resemblance to beer why does anyone bother drinking it?

The brewery tacks the slogan "smooth and distinguished" onto each can. Smooth? By default, yes. Distinguished? Someone please get these people a dictionary. Is that meant to be tongue-in-cheek? Let me be plain and simple: this doesn't smell, taste or feel like beer (and you could make the case about this artificial carbonation) so in my mind, it simply isn't.

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Photo of Genry
2/5  rDev -41.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 440 can into a glass snifter.

Pour was terrible, even when I took my time there was too much foam. Appearance is a cloudy grey fading to deep red.

Smells of carbonation from the widget, and not much else. Very muted.

The taste was very, very disappointing. I had thought Guinness went down hill, but Kilkenny has taken a nosedive. Taste was bitter, heavy - borderline rank. Nothing but bitter hops and cream. It made me feel like I was drinking stale water that had been mixed with real Kilkenny, poured on the ground, soaked up with a towel, and strained into my glass.

Mouthfeel was not much better, oily and heavy. What a waste.

Drinkability? I will not be drinking Kilkenny from a can for a long time, though I'm tempted to give it a second chance on tap.

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Photo of atomicbolt
3.46/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this plenty of times (apparently identical to Smithwick's in the US? There's some story there involving Guinness ownership that I don't remember) but I'll finally review it, 440 mL nitro can.

Nice, creamy look in the glass, with a cloudy brown appearance with red undertones. Creamy tan head settles nicely and laces a decent amount, you can really tell that the nitro-can makes a difference in the creaminess. The smell isn't too powerful, just a bit of caramel malts, some real yeastiness - no idea what effect the nitrogen has on the smell, but maybe I'm smelling part of that reaction.

The taste's quite good. Creamy all around, big malty kick, toasty, caramel, fairly complex. Subsides into a fairly bitter, roasted aftertaste. The bitterness actually hangs around a bit too strongly in the aftertaste, could use a bit more balance there. The creaminess also fades sooner than you'd expect. Not as drinkable as say, a good stout, on account of the bitterness and some off notes in the taste, plus it fills you up pretty quickly. Still, the mouthfeel's quite nice, and the taste is still pretty enjoyable.

Overall it's good, but as a fan of Irish reds, I think the taste profile could be better.

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Photo of BringusKilkenney
4.97/5  rDev +45.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap and loved it probably one of my favorite beers ever so easy to drink.

This cream ale pours a nice ruby red with a little yellow in the light. Nice white two finger head with a one finger that lingers.

The smell is nice of roasted malts and cream just smooth all around.

The taste is of malts and smoothness if that is a taste a bit watery if you concentrate to hard. A great offering for this style and good job for a guiness brew.

The mouthfeel is smooth and carbonated with just a little fizz nice and easy to take down a really nice session beer with the low abv what a great brew to just sit back and enjoy with friends.

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Photo of Seanstoppable
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arrived as a cloudy reddish brown. Creamy white bubbles filter to the top as it settles, making for a bit of a show. The taste was a delicious creamy, slightly sweet flavor, with some mild bitterness. Really smooth and tasty, though a bit dry in the end. It reminds me of a really good Guinness, but not as heavy.

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Photo of DoctorStrangiato
4.25/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 440-ml can into a pub ale glass.

Appearance - shimmering, cascading flow as the beer settled to an amberish- white cream head.

Smell - hops and malted barley, with a hint of both caramel and coffee.

Taste - wow! I'm impressed with the harmonious combination of nuttiness and caramel-vanilla. Pretty complex taste - enjoyable.

Mouthfeel - pretty decent, although just a touch more sparkle or bite would be good.

Drinkability - the low-alcohol, high-taste is a winner. Many of these could be put down in a night.

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Photo of delmarnate
4.85/5  rDev +42.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this beer on tap in Ireland numerous times on a trip there. The taste and mouthfeel are outstanding. Very nice mix of hoppiness and malts with a stronger malt character.The head stayed with the beer the whole glass. Very smooth and drinkable beer. I wish it was available here.

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Photo of TubaManJack
4.13/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In NZ, the beer has an ABV of 5%, to help weather the journey halfway round the world.

A- Always helped by a proper pint glass, has a moderate brown color with reddish undertones. (Like most bars there wasn't an abundance of light) Its thick creamy nitrogen head did not diminish throughout my consumption. It was weird to have that much "cream" left at the tail end of the beer.

S- Moderate and almost muted. However the nitrous sensation was there along with the notes of malt.

T - A slight note of bitters(hops) but overwhelming malt taste. The nitrogen body was smooth and creamy. So I propose this beer be renamed a thick Irish Cream. Its is so thick that it seems to have a delay between when you tip the glass back to when it begins to pour, just kidding its a thicker beer than most of what I have encountered in the past.

M- A lingering bitterness that is floating on the nitro-body. Towards the end of the sitting, the head began to be repetitive and almost airy in relation to its initial character.

D- A refreshing change from Guinness and when the bar runs out of it then you shouldn't be disappointed. The body gets in the way of its endless drinkablity, however I enjoy the style and its certainly more friendly per pint then Guinness. If you like Guinness than revel in a new found beer.

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Photo of TheHammer
2.49/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance - Came in a Kilkenny glass, has a nice deep brown color with reddish undertones. A good solid finger of nitrogen head which retains and laces extremely well throughout the whole beer.

Smell - Smells quite generic to be honest, and not quite that strong. Smells of various malts, caramel, with an almost tea like undertone and a hint of yeast. A little light as far as scent goes as you do have to look for it.

Taste - The head is nice, as expected from a nitrogen tap, but it just doesn't flow right. Starts with a sweet malt flavor with a touch of tea and caramel, but from that point apart from a quick kick of bitter hops in the middle, the beer just present more of the same flavor, albeit more and more subdued.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth going down, but the bitterness lingers a bit too long. The beer is deceptive, if it was Guinness you'd expect it to be that strong, but because it seems smoother and lighter you don't expect it to stay. Also, doesn't leave the creamy sensation you'd expect from a nitro-tap.

Drinkability - Well, on the plus side this beer is a much more subdued Guinness and goes down a lot smoother. That being said, it does leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste. The biggest problem though is once this beer hits your stomach it feels like lead. This beer is far too heavy for me to have more then one or two. It honestly feels someone lined my stomach with caulking it's so heavy.

Final Thoughts - When I think this beer, I think of Guinness. This is probably because of the nitrogen tap. That being said, this beer seems to suffer from all the flaws of Guinness (heavy, bitter aftertaste) with few of the advantages (rich and strong flavor, creamy feel). Frankly that would be fine if the beer was lighter to the stomach. I would probably never buy this beer again, it's far too heavy for far too little flavor.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

440ml nitro-widget thingy can. Long ago, this was a go-to pint upon finding myself in any and all manner of Irish or English-themed pub, yet it has indeed been a while, so time to get reacquainted, me old son.

This beer pours (eventually) a clear, medium copper amber colour, after that overwhelming, cascading off-white foam settles to a few fingers of perfectly creamy ecru head, with a touch of spectral webbed lace left around the glass. It is indeed always a pleasure to watch that particular trope of physics in action.

It smells of lightly fruity drupe esters, grainy caramel malt, wet toasted bread, a bit of earthy yeast, and rather faint earthy, weedy hops. The taste is quite malty and fruity, both measures indistinct and pleasant at the same rate - the thinly bready graininess, and stale apple and banana chips having to suffice - as the mild floral, leafy hops really have little to offer here.

The carbonation is very low-key and beyond innocuous, the body medium-light in weight, and smooth, smooth is the operative word, unless you're into creaminess, and well, it's got that in spades too. It finishes barely off-dry, the malt kind of bleeding out, while the seemingly manufactured fruit and hop esters stick around as if by court order.

I've always been content with this as a perfunctory default at that sort of bar, both here and even in Eire herself; but now, upon closer circumspection, a few blemishes become increasingly evident - a certain plainness all around, be it malt, hop, or well, overall flavour. Which, I suppose is this one's appeal at the pub - toss in the lower than average ABV, and this beer is sessionability, incarnate.

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Photo of EatsTacos
3.16/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a cascading deep brown with a creamy, dense off white head. Some decent lacing

A light aroma of malt but not much to speak of. The flavour is quite dry with a grainy malt backbone. Pretty bitter but still light on the hops. Pretty reminiscent of a Guinness for me. Creamy mouthfeel and pretty soft carbonation. Not too bad.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It has a deep and dark red body with beautiful cloudy carbonation unit the beer settles. The head is amazingly frothy and creamy. Both the head and lace stick around until the bottom of the glass. The head does get thin it just seems to settle to about an eighth of an inch. Just like most Irish beers it is more about malt than hops. It is hardly bitter at all. The flavor is bread like with a mild amount of caramel. It has thick mouthfeel and is mildly creamy. It is creamier in the can than on tap in my opinion.

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Photo of jaz58
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice ale. One of my favorites.

Nice orange brown clear appreance in the glass with a rich caramel white head which dissolves slowly.

Hints of caramel, malt and hops in the taste.

Fresh bread dough in the nose.

Smooth with a slighty dry finish.

A good ale to drink anytime of the year.

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Photo of ludachris
3.29/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a really nice tea like red with a thick white head that stays until the beer is done. Nice sticky lacing that follows the beer to the end of the glass. For smell and taste I couldnt get that much. Very very smooth with almost no carbonation. Could easily have another but the taste just isn't there. For the price of a 4 pack, I dont think I'm going to buy another one of these for awhile.

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Photo of nighthawk
3.16/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, deep copper with a large, soft fluffy white head which slowly shrinks to one finger that stays around for the rest of the beer. Tons of lacing left on the glass as I drink.
Some bread and weak tea in the nose. Not so much subtle as lacklustre.
Taste is tea, fresh-baked bread and grains. Sweet, but lightly so. Somewhat creamy, medium-light body that feels thin on the finish. Sweet, but still dry.
This is an eminently drinkable, and sessionable, beer. Low-ish alcohol, not too sweet or dry, this beer is easy to quaff, and can be pleasant to do so.

Ultimately, this beer is pleasant. Nothing tickles my fancy, or even gets me really interested. However, it is certainly not a disappointing or offensive brew. I wouldn't turn it down, but I can't sing its praises.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark amber color with a creamy, white head. Thick, reddish hue to the color. Sweet smell, with a smooth, dry finish. I enjoyed this beer nevertheless. Not heavy and goes down smooth. Would drink again given the chance. Its better than Caffreys to me. Cheers.

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Photo of WHROO
1.66/5  rDev -51.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Can with widget poured into 500ml mug.
As expected after a slow pour, very soft & creamy 1 finger head...creamy lacing down the glass & as typical with red ales, a deep reddish burgundy - strong tea colour. No carbonation.
aroma had a little yeast, but definately had to search for anything really.
The taste was my turn just had the whole watered down Guiness thing big time. Flat with no carbonation in the mouth at all. I love my stouts, darker ales etc, but this was a let really tasted as dead as the carbonation. nothing bad about it, its just that theres nothing memorable either. a fraction bitter at back, but it really seemed dead weight.
Mouthfeel was flat, although creamy, also a little heavy.
Drinkabilty:: my goodness, I really did struggle to get it all down, but in the end I did due to passing it around for others to try (some liked, others didn't). Just too watery, & absolutelty nothing to invite me back for another one...a shame really!

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Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale from Smithwick's Brewery / Irish Ale Breweries Ltd
3.41 out of 5 based on 386 ratings.
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