Traditional Irish Style Beers
Mar. 4, 2021
It's hard to think about beer styles without thinking about Ireland. And with famous Irish beer's like Guiness, Killians, and Murphey's on the shelves of grocery stores, bars, and liquor stores across the country it's easy to understand why. While it's true that Ireland has a long tradition of brewing, Irish brewers had to be incredibly creative throughout history because Ireland's climate makes it hard to grow hops all year around. Instead, brewers relied on beer styles that used fewer hops and focused on other grains like barley or even Irish moss.
Okay, so it's not exactly a type of moss--it's a seaweed. But Irish moss is another great example of the ingenuity of Irish brewers. The "moss" has been used as a filtration system and remains popular today among homebrewers.
How to use Irish Moss in Beer
For most types of Irish moss, you add about 2 teaspoons of moss per 5 gallons of water during the last 15-20 minutes of the boil of your brewing process. After that you siphon the brew into the fermenter leaving behind as much of the moss as you can and you should be able to expect a clear beer.
All of the ingenuity and inventiveness led to some of the most famous Irish beer styles out there today.
Irish Red Beer
Irish Red Beer is known for both its red color and for its malty sweetness, notes of caramel, toffee, and butter. It's a great example of how Irish brewers used more roasted barley instead of hops to create some of their iconic beer styles, which is what gives it the toasted malt flavor. Irish reds pair well with mild cheeses and meats like chicken.
Irish Stout Beer
Dark, bitter, and creamy--stouts might be one of the most iconic Irish beer style. This beer style is usually deep brown or black with a thick brown head, which is why people also call it an Irish dark beer. It's known for its notes of coffee that comes from the roasted barley and malts, but the flavor profile can change based on different ingredients it's brewed with for example, lactose (milk stout) or oatmeal (oatmeal stout). Irish stout is very versatile and pairs great with shellfish, fruity desserts, meat, and chocolate.
Gruit is definitely not on the list of typical Irish beers, but it does have a pretty unique history. With hops hard to grow in Ireland, some brewers just ditched them all together and brewed with herbs and spices instead. Since each brewer was using whatever was available, this meant that gruit beer was extremely different depending on who made it. The herbs and spices were usually pretty powerful, and in some cases were even psychotropic, so be careful if you're offered any homemade gruit today!
With St. Patrick's Day approaching fast, let's raise a glass to all the Irish brewers who gave us some of our favorite Irish beer styles. Ready to find your new favorite Irish beer style?