Amber & Red Ale

Guide to Amber & Red Ale

As one might expect considering the name, amber and red ales are reddish coloured beers that are more malt-forward in their flavour profile than an average pale ale, with brewers of this style often using specialty malted grains in their malt bill.

In addition to influencing the colour, the use of specialty malts also adds to the flavour profile and body of the resulting beer, which manifests itself in a typically medium-bodied brew with moderately strong malt flavours of toast, caramel, and toffee alongside low to moderate hoppy fruit flavours of citrus, pine, resin, tropical fruit, or spice, depending upon the strain of hops used.

Amber & Red Ale Characteristics

Sometimes, in order to balance out the moderately high amounts of malty sweetness contained in many of these beers, brewers will often strengthen the presence of hop fruitiness and hop bitterness to more moderate levels, although the hop profile will never exceed that of the malt profile.

When looking into this category of ale, the three most important sub-styles to consider are:

  • American Amber Ale
  • Irish Red Ale
  • Belgian Red Ale

For more information on the world of amber ales, consider this handy guide.

American Amber Ale

American Amber Ale Characteristics

As is the case with many other American ales, brewers of American amber ales are famous for utilising a greater amount of hops during production, with most expressions of this sub-style being moderate in both their malt and hop profiles, medium in their body, and amber to red in their colour.

Flavourwise, these beers will often balance pronounced malt flavours of toast and toffee alongside equally present American hop flavours of citrus, fruit, and resiny pine, all within a beer that contains a moderate to high character of hoppy bitterness.

The overall character and flavour profile of these beers means that they are often most suitably matched with barbecued or grilled red or white meats.

Irish Red Ale

When it comes to amber and red ales, Irish red ales exist as the most approachable and maltiest sub-style of all, with many of them exhibiting a moderately strong malt profile that imparts flavours of toast, toffee, and candy-like caramel sweetness within that is typically a medium-bodied beer.

As the overall hop profile is low, hoppy fruit flavours and hoppy bitterness are kept to a minimum, and it is not uncommon for these beers to possess a malty sweet start followed by a dry, slightly bitter finish that is directly related to the roasted malts used.

All aspects considered, Irish red ales can often be best served alongside servings of roast vegetables, lightly roasted or grilled white meat and poultry, or finally, mild cheddars.

Irish Red Ale Characteristics

Belgian Red Ale

Belgian Red Ale Characteristics

Belgian red ales, also sometimes called “Flemish” or “Flanders red ales”, are some of the most uniquely flavoured beers to ever exist.

The malt profile takes centre stage in these brews, with there being a low to moderately discernable presence of malt flavours such as toast, caramel, or chocolate alongside a practically non-existent hop profile that imparts almost no amounts of hoppy fruit flavours or hoppy bitterness.

To enhance the flavour profile of these beers, brewers often age them in oak, which helps to impart smooth flavours of chocolate and vanilla alongside dark fruit flavours of cherry, prune, raisin, and plum.

In a further twist, Belgian red ales usually possess a moderate to high amount of sourness, which helps to craft extremely complex beers with a very unique flavour profile.

For recommended food pairing options, match the sourness in these beers with salty foods, such as salted nuts or cured meats, robust meat dishes, including garlic sausage, and finally, sharp cheddar cheese.

There's an amber or red ale out there for everyone. Here are some of the brands and bottles that we recommend you look out for the next time you're browsing online or in-store.

Yulli's Slick Rick Rampaging Red Ale Tasting Notes
Full-bodied & mouth-coatingly dry in taste, this is a bitter red ale with flavours of dry malt & hops, making it best with heavy dishes.

Yulli's Slick Rick Rampaging

Red Ale

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