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Smithwick's USA imports: Are "Red Ale" and "Imported Premium Irish Ale" the same beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MNAle, Mar 15, 2019 at 2:37 AM.

  1. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,101) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Total Wine sells one; my local store sells the other. Both are labeled as 4.5% ABV.
    PatrickCT likes this.
  2. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,891) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Did they recently redo the label? Perhaps one is the old label and the other new.
  3. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,101) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    @PatrickCT -- thanks for the response, but I have no idea.

    Here is the six-pack carton that I bought for St Patrick's Day:

    When I then tried to find the beer on this site, I see it is not on the database; this seemed to be the closest:

    I then checked Total Wine's web site, and that is the beer they have for sale.

    Anyone know if they are the same.
    PatrickCT likes this.
  4. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (121) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    I think they are the same beer with a different label. If you want to be absolutely sure, check if there is contact information on their website.
  5. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,153) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yeah, I think Guinness recently re-branded all of their beers -- there's a recent thread asking about Harp's new label.*

    Look up Smithwick's on Google and click over to the images -- you'll see all kinds of different labels, past and present.

    *Looks like 2 threads were merged.
    #5 steveh, Mar 15, 2019 at 12:14 PM
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 12:20 PM
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  6. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,101) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Thanks. I did do that, but got even more confused. Their local market labels are using same or similar names for the export beers, but they are obviously not the same beer (lower ABV, for example in the local market). That, in itself, is not all that unusual, but sites such as BA and the "other" site seem to also be confused in the listings of Smithwick's brands.
  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,153) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    That's a strange one. Lower ABV listed on the same label from other markets? Or is it one of the different labels?*

    Looking at a sales page for Smithwick's at Target and they list it at 4.5% (as the label above), but they picture the old, green six-pack with the script logo and the castle tower image in the background.**

    Could be they updated the info, but not the imagery. Too many variables when the marketing team gets out of hand. :wink:

    *, ** Also found images of the 2 different red labels with 4.5% ABV -- interesting that you're finding variables.
    #7 steveh, Mar 15, 2019 at 12:36 PM
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 12:43 PM
    AlcahueteJ, PatrickCT and MNAle like this.
  8. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,891) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    On Smithwick's website the red ale is 3.8% Also it suggests that they only brew 3 beers.
    steveh and AlcahueteJ like this.
  9. Curry

    Curry Initiate (122) Apr 10, 2003 Montana

    Generally, Kilkenny is the same brew as Smithwick's, with a different can/label.
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,407) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    There are numerous beers brewed by Guinness and marketed internationally under both brand names, Smithwick's and Kilkenny, so you never know what you're getting. For instance, for Smithwick's when Guinness' "promotional" brewmaster, Fergal Murray was doing a promo tour of the US, he even - refreshingly - admitted as much to the Washington Post:

  11. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (121) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    Why can't you brew beer under 4%? It seems in Europe people drink these kinds of beers but here in the states, it's quite rare to find a beer under 4%. I can only think of one locally available not counting imports. I feel like beers under 4% would be enjoyable on a hot day when you want to drink multiple beers without becoming too intoxicated.

    Now that I think about it my guess is they feel a beer under 4% would have less mass market appeal. I would still like to see some more Americn craft brewers try this out, perhaps brew a summer seasonal English mild ale. I'd love to try one of these. A local brewery actually had one recently but they took it off their rotation before I managed to try it.
    #11 Ceddd99, Mar 16, 2019 at 10:44 AM
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019 at 10:51 AM
    AlcahueteJ and Bitterbill like this.
  12. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (259) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I'd say the US light beer segment is pretty close, being mostly 4.2% abv. With other styles though it might seem like too much of a compromise. In countries where the alcohol taxation is progressive (such as the UK) a lower abv, and thus lower priced, regular beer has more of chance of being seen as an acceptable compromise, or even being seen as normal strenght (over time), compared with the more expensive higher abv beers. The consumer can rationalize the lower abv from a cost perspective. In the US taxation has comparatively little impact on the price of the beer (maybe there are state taxes somewhere which I'm unaware of which are punitive, but compared with European high-tax countries US taxes are very low).

    When people argue that the price of session strenght beers in the US should be sold at a cheaper price due to the lower abv I can't help but be a bit perplexed as someone living in a high tax country. If the pricing is significantly influenced by the abv this is due to a punitive and progressive tax system, thus in a low tax system there should be no relationship between price and abv. Instead the brewery's desired profit margin and consumer demand should dictate the price. Aside from marginally higher ingredients costs the abv is simply a number, like the amount of carbs in the beer, and should have as much of an impact on the price as those.
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,407) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    In the US, on the Federal level there are currently 3 different excise tax rates for beer, based not on ABV but on the size of the brewery:
    As frequently mentioned, that rate is relatively low - working out to be 2-5¢ for a 12 oz bottle or can.

    On the state (and, in some cases, municipal) level, some have different rates based on alcohol level and also type of retailer, additional "Wholesaler" taxes, etc. Some are quite high compared to the low FETs.
    Unfortunately, the state rates are typically based on gallons, rather than barrels at the Federal level, requiring some math (the bane of many BA'ers :wink:). In addition it should be noted that beer is taxed by the state where it is to be sold, not where it is brewed.
  14. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (259) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Thanks alot for that link, it gives a better overview of the tax burden. Still sounds quite reasonable to me as a Swede however :stuck_out_tongue:.

    Here's an image taken from the Swedish alcohol monopoly's own website showing their pricing model for different types of alcoholic beverages:

    The can in the middle exemplifies the average öl (beer) and shows the constituent parts making up the price: moms (value added tax), alkoholskatt (alcohol tax), systembolaget (the monopoly's own take) and leverantören (the supplier). So more than 50% of the price is taxes on average.
  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,407) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    The US brewers organizations tend to overemphasize (or, perhaps, more fairly "obscure") the tax on beer. For instance, this quote from The Beer Institute (often referred to as the "Big Brewers' group" but many "craft" brewers belong to it. as well):
    Which sure sounds a lot worse that that "nickel a can" for large breweries' in the TTB's 2017 rate, and as a result many think beer is heavily taxed in the US. But, the catch is the inclusion of both "sales taxes" and "business taxes" - both of which, of course, apply to almost everything else one buys. (I mean, no one ever considers what portion of the price of a can of Campbell's Soup or a Dell paperback novel or even a new Chevy goes to "business taxes").

    The comparison I often make is that post-Repeal, the FET rate in the US was $5/barrel - at the time, the standard price for a 12 oz. bottle of beer was 10¢ - so the federal tax accounted for about 15% of the price.

    Today, the $3.50 bbl. the small brewers are paying means that a $1.50 bottle of beer is being taxed at a rate of approx. 0.08%.
  16. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,101) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Some do. The component of a product's price that is tax usually only gets the public's attention, though, when it is a targeted tax (alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, etc.)

    However, the general truth in the BI's inclusion of business taxes is that no business ever pays taxes. Their customers do.
  17. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (902) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    There's a fair amount if you look hard enough. Unfortunately they're more often than not in styles that I don't personally find too sessionable. Some New England IPAs and mostly Berliner Weisse's.

    Harpoon did just release a New England IPA (or pale ale, whatever) called "Rec League" that's 3.8%.
    seakayak likes this.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,843) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    The cost of Scandinavian social democracy!?!:grimacing:

    Non-cheers to taxes!!

    P.S. If I lived in Sweden I would exclusively be drinking homebrew (or do they tax that too?).
  19. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (259) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Well it should be remembered that the cost of a liver transplant is included in the price :stuck_out_tongue:. It's not so bad, anyone with a full time job can afford beer from the monopoly. If you plan on doing much beer drinking in bars and restaurants on the other hand you better get a promotion or win the lottery.
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,843) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Hopefully the lines are not too long. I have seen news stories this could take year+ in the States.