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Thursday, August 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 69.0° F  Light Rain
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Beer Here: Gray's Irish Style Ale from Gray's Brewing
This beer is smooth yet tame in flavor, so it goes well with a plowman's lunch.
Credit:Robin Shepard

There are a couple of holidays that beer drinkers don't miss. In the fall there's Oktoberfest, which really doesn't have a specific day. Rather, it's weeks of what seems like an endless celebration. But it's St. Patrick's Day, March 17, that truly says Beer Here!

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Guinness, right? Actually, there is another pub favorite that shouldn't be overlooked, Irish red. A local example comes from Gray's Brewing of Janesville, which this time of year makes an Irish-style ale that pays tribute to company founder Joshua Gray, an Irish immigrant who started his brewery in 1856. (The brewery is now run by Fred Gray, the fifth generation of brewers.) With St. Paddy's Day just a couple of weeks away, you'd better stock up on this one now.

What is it? Irish Style Ale from Gray Brewing Company.

Style: The Irish ale, also commonly referred to as an Irish red, is known for its deep reddish-amber color. The ale has a moderate caramel-malt flavor and sweetness. This beer can also offer a light roastedness in the finish, which lends itself to some dryness. But there generally is little or no hoppy strength. The Irish ale is smooth and medium- to light-bodied.

Background: Gray's Irish Style Ale received a Bronze Medal in the Irish-style red ale category of the 2006 World Beer Championships. The recipe features four types of malted barley and three varieties of hops. The beer comes in at about 6% alcohol by volume. It is bottled by Gray Brewing, and it's also on tap at the Gray's Tied House in Verona.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Light, caramel maltiness.
  • Appearance: Clear, reddish amber with a thick, tan bubbly head.
  • Texture: Medium bodied and round.
  • Taste: Smooth caramel malt body.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Clean, with just a hint of roastedness.

Glassware: The English or Nonik pint glass will showcase this beer's clear, reddish amber color.

Pairs well with: Bangers and mash, or just a big Wisconsin brat! This beer is smooth yet tame in flavor, so it goes well with a plowman's lunch.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers.

(I am using a one to four bottle opener scale: four is a great beer, distinctive, you'll have this over others; three is a beer you enjoy, reliable, close to its described style; two is problematic, lacks distinction, but worth having again; one is a beer that isn't true to its style, you would not recommend it to a friend.)

The Consensus: B+ (very good) from Beer Advocate and a 45 from Rate Beer.

The Verdict: This is a smooth, easy-drinking beer. It's a great beer to have before a meal, because it won't fill you up and will transition into most meals. A nice meal companion to pay one's respect to St. Patrick.

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