My other impetus for brewing these beers again is the fact that these style of beers are not as prevalent as they once were. At least not as prevalent in the portfolios of American craft brewers. Gentile Brewing in my hometown is an exception as they brew a year-round stout and seasonal Irish red. Nowadays many craft stouts have some kind of adjunct like coffee, chocolate, vanilla, spices, and most are imperial in strength.
A subtle, slightly malty style like Irish Red couldn't be more different than say New England IPA. That doesn't give craft brewers impetus to brew them. Several examples are made with American malt. In a malt-driven style like this using authentic ingredients is critical. I've bought "Irish Red" ales that tasted like under-hopped American Amber Ales.
As I drink less these days, I didn't have room to put two Irish beers on tap. On tap right now I have Employee Orientation 102, the second runnings of a training beer I made with a colleague, and a re-brew of a dark lager Pulpwood Stacker. If I could only brew one, the Irish Red made the most sense.
I kicked the batch further old-school by brewing the beer with malt extract. Two cans of Muntons Maris Otter Pale extract to be exact with some steeped specialty grains. I brewed this batch the same day I brewed Thomas Brady's Ale. To heat my water for steeping my specialty grains I used the first gallon of water to come out of my immersion chiller as I started to chill my first batch. The water was piping hot and seemed to do the job just fine in terms of extracting flavor and color from my grains.
|Who needs a muslin bag?|
From there I strained my specialty specialty grains and collected the wort in my Mash & Boil, topped off with more water, heated up the wort to near boiling temperature, and cut the heat before adding my malt extract. The idea is to not scorch the kettle or the extract. Also, the Mash & Boil has a breaker that shuts off if the water is too low to stop the unit from heating up when it's dry. I made sure my liquid extract was fully dissolved before powering back up to get to a boil.
|The same thing as using Maris Otter out of the sack, except I let my colleagues in Stowmarket|
do the mashing for me.
Every time I brew with malt extract I ask myself why I don't do it more often. Are there limitations that come with extract brewing? Yes, but every brewer has limitations of some kind. I visited a large brewery that had only just opened. The brewers stared at monitors like Homer Simpson at the nuclear power plant as almost everything in this state-of-the-art brewery was hard piped. Even touring that facility, the brewer lamented a couple bits and bobs he wished they had done differently that they had to work around.
Usually as soon as I am done brewing, my mind immediately shifts to thinking what I will brew next. Enjoying the beer is almost an afterthought. For some reason I am particularly excited to enjoy this batch. I think I am excited to enjoy a beer made with such relative simplicity. A beer where the base was malt extract, the proportion of specialty malt was small, the flavor is designed to be subtle, and the balance makes the beer crushable.
The beer is already in the keg. Pints will be enjoyed on Saint Patrick's Day!
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