It’s St. Patrick’s Day! The day that has become known as the day when everyone is a little bit Irish. The usual tradition I see at pubs is bland lagers tainted with green food colouring, lots of Guinness and lots of Jameson whisky. I despise the idea of green beer so I’ll be ordering my beer sans-dye this year (like every year). I’m also not a fan of Guinness aside from Guinness Foreign Extra Stout brewed in Jamaica — after 10 years of drinking craft stouts and porters, Guinness just doesn’t taste right to me.
I was at the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart the other day thinking of alternatives to Guinness and Kilkenny for the special day. I was walking aisle by aisle and just couldn’t think of anything to try for St. Patrick’s Day. As I was deciding on other beer to pick up, Liquor Mart consultant Sandi came up to me and asked me if I’ve ever tried Beau’s Strong Patrick Irish-style Red Ale before, saying that she absolutely loved it. In fact, I had some the other day and I was also gifted a bottle from a friend in Ottawa back in 2014 as my friend was a huge Beau’s fan and travels over an hour (one day) to Vankleek Hill whenever the brewery has an event, that’s pretty dedicated in my opinion!
Beau’s Strong Patrick is your typical red Irish-style ale. The beer is described as luscious and malty, with toasty caramel and toffee notes complemented by whisky flavours and alcohol warmth. Part of each batch has been aged in Irish whisky barrels. The Irish Red Ale is well rounded and balanced, with a pleasant overall character.
Strong Patrick pours a bright yet opaque ruby red body with a hint of micro-carbonation and a light amount of beige head at top. The aroma is pretty welcoming, especially on a day like today. The first thing that comes to my mind is the smell of wood, as if I was in a centuries old distillery basement surrounded by oak barrels aging whiskies. There’s also notes of caramel, a hint of vanilla, a light amount of booze bite, a light amount of earthy peat and a light hint of burnt toffee — yum!
The woodiness pops out right at the beginning in my very first sip with a good amount of earthy peat complimenting it. The beer is quite sweet thanks to the compliments of caramel and toffee. I notice a faint amount of whisky in there but not enough to get me tipsy, thankfully! The aftertaste is an earthy taste that’s coming off from the barrel wood, an aftertaste similar to the higher-end whiskies I like to sample.
If you’re thinking of becoming a little bit Irish today, this certified organic Irish red ale would please anyone who likes a nice malt-forward red ale or darker beers. Comparing the notes from back in 2014 when I first tried this beer, this beer has improved considerably and this may be the first Irish red ale I’ve enjoyed since the mid-late 2000s. It has a great bitter bite to it from the aged wood and also a great caramel/toffee medley that’s sweet but not so sweet that you will be feeling a heart burn after a few sips.
You can find this at Liquor Marts in Brandon and Dauphin for $7.40 per 600 ml bottle. Beau’s is one of the confirmed breweries that will be pouring at the Brandon Beer Festival next month. In fact, the festival will be the first time one of Beau’s upcoming releases has ever been sampled in Manitoba. 6.7 per cent ABV.