By Greg Carlson
“About the Beer” is a blog series about the vision and design behind our beers, and the techniques we used to bring them to life.
Look, I get it. I know. I literally JUST said it’s time to “bring the OOMPH” and suddenly we’re right back in our wheelhouse -- balance, tradition, etc. etc. -- with our new beer, Hardcastle’s Irish Red.
Listen. Not only is St. Paddy’s Day America’s greatest holiday, it’s my goddamn birthday and I’m gonna brew what I want.
Or, more specifically, what Paul wants. Paul’s a friend of ours and, without getting into too much detail, he got the nickname Detective Hardcastle several years ago, and he told me to make a Hardcastle’s Irish Red. I actually like naming beers after my friends, and he did do some work during our buildout, and it’s actually a good name for a beer, so I made it.
Here’s how we did it:
Traditionally, an Irish red ale is a sort-of cousin of the Irish dry stout, brewed with a lot of pale malt and a bit of roasted barley to add flavor and color. However, I did not want to do that (again, birthday).
Instead, Hardcastle’s is brewed with two British pale malts, some amber malt, and a bit of a double-roasted crystal malt (Name That Maltster!). Those last two give Hardcastle its intensely red hue and lovely caramel and toast notes.
With these malts, especially the crystal, we needed to avoid ending up with a sticky sweet beer. So to keep things in balance, we mashed at a fairly lower temperature. As we’ve covered in our earlier blog post about our other Irish beer, this produces simpler sugars that can more easily be consumed by the yeast during fermentation.
We also hopped the beer with just enough of our go-to bittering hop (and I mean German Magnum) to give it a slight bitterness that balances out the malt. And finally, we fermented Hardcastle exactly how we fermented Blackstone -- using our English ale yeast strain and fermenting at a slightly lower temperature to ensure a nice and clean profile.
In the end, Hardcastle’s Irish Red is exactly the kind of beer you should be reaching for on St. Patrick’s Day -- fun, flavorful, and 100% able to be consumed pint after pint after pint (and so on).
Happy St. Patrick Day to y’all and an extremely happy birthday to me.