Better Red Than Dead

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If you’re looking for a traditional Irish beer for your St. Patrick’s Day party that is sessionable and less intimidating than the rich, dark aura of a dry Irish stout, then a red ale is just the thing. With low hop character and sweet, caramel malt flavors that shine through in the forefront, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser with your friends who fear “the black stuff.”

This recipe comes from author Mark Pasquinelli’s article on Irish Red Ales in the March/April 2009 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Mark describes it as “the ultimate session beer: not to dark, alcoholic, malty or bitter—a metaphor in moderation”, even capable of bridging gaps between stout snobs and light lager lovers.

Pasquinelli notes that this recipe, even with additional fermentation time to ward off diacytel, is ready in about a month. Brew some today and have it ready for your St. Paddy’s Day celebration . Sláinte!

Better Red Than Dead | Irish Red Ale


  • For 6 gallons (22.7 L)
    • 7.0 lb (3.2 kg) | Maris Otter malt
    • 3.0 lb (1.4 kg) | Munich malt
    • 8.0 oz (227 g) | CaraRed 20
    • 6.0 oz (170 g) | Crystal 120
    • 4.0 oz (113 g) | Roasted Barley
    • 1.5 oz (43 g) | Fuggle 4.6% a.a. pellet hops (45 min)
    • 1.0 oz (28 g) | East Kent Goldings 4.5% a.a. pellet hops (15 min)
    • White Labs 004 or Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale Yeast
    • 3.5 oz (100 g) | priming sugar


    • Original Gravity: 1.053
    • Final Gravity: 1.016
    • IBU: 26
    • SRM: 17
    • Boil Time: 90 minutes
    • Efficiency: 75%


    Use a single-step infusion mash. Add 16 quarts (15.1 liters) of 164°F (73°C) water to the crushed grain to establish a mash temperature of 153°F (67°C).

    Hold for 60 minutes.

    Sparge and collect 7.5 gallons (28.4 L) of wort.

    Bring to a boil for 90 minutes and add Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops at 45 and 15 minutes remaining respectively.

    Ferment at 65°F (18°C) to 68°F (20°C) until completion. Bottle condition or keg at 2.0 volumes of CO2.

    Extract Option

    Substitute 6.5 lb (3.0 kg) Eglish dry malt extract for the base malts. Steep specialty grains for 30 minutes in 160°F (71°C) water. Increase hops to 25 percent to compensate for lower utilization rate. Reduce boil to 60 minutes and proceed with remainder of recipe.