Homebrewing for the First Time – Irish Red Ale

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My dear husband Andrew has been brewing beer for a year. I finally decided it was time for me to give it a go. We just decided to upgrade to kegging in place of bottling. This is Andrew’s Irish Red Ale recipe.

An Irish Red Ale is the perfect start for me! My great grandparents came to America in 1917 from County Cork, Ireland. The photo below is of my families home. Irish runs deep in my blood. Back when I was in high school, I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country. Someday I will make it back.  

Ireland Home - Irish Red Ale - Beer
Family Home – Painted by Danny Smith

I am eager to start brewing with my husband. There is a lot of learning to do as I begin my adventure in homebrewing, but the possibilities are endless. While I am learning to brew, I fully anticipate successes and failures. Both are going to be valuable learning opportunities, so I plan on sharing all that I learn.

If you have never brewed beer before and want to know more about the vocabulary and steps, Leslie Stephen’s, from the blog Bitter and Esters, wrote this great article outlining equipment, materials, and steps.

Getting in the Mood

Andrew also believes it is important to mentally be prepared. We ate pizza for lunch and drank beer for lunch. Looking for a great pizza crust recipe to go with your beer? Look no longer because here is a New York Style Pizza Crust that is guaranteed to please.

Pizza - beer - Red Irish Ale
Steak and Onion Pizza with New York Style Pizza Crust

It is important to have a clean kitchen. You don’t want to risk any contamination and it is easier to use your space effectively when you are not working around extra stuff. Get those dirty dishes washed and counters cleaned off.

Have you materials ready. We use an online program called Beer Smith to enter information and build recipes.

beer - Red Irish Ale

Irish Red Ale

Irish Red Ale


  • Up to 6 gallons of water - split
  • 2.0 oz Maillard Malts English Roasted Barley
  • 8.0 oz Caramunich Malt
  • 4.0 oz Special Roast
  • 2.0 oz Chocolate Malt
  • 6 lbs Malt Extract
  • 1 oz Willamette Hop Pellets
  • 1 oz US Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss Clarifying Agent
  • 1 package Hothead Ale Yeast by Omega Yeast Labs


  1. Heat (not boil) 2 1/2 gallons of water to approximately 160°F
  2. Remove yeast from fridge
  3. Put Maillard Malts English Roasted Barley, Caramunich Malt, Special Roast, and Chocolate Malt in a steeping bag
  4. Steep for 30 minutes maintaining a temperate between 155°F-170°F
  5. The mixture has become wort
  6. Remove the steeper and bring the wort to a boil
  7. Place the malt extract into steaming water in the sink
  8. Once the wort is boiling, mix in malt extract
  9. Add Willamette Hop Pellets
  10. Stir the wort
  11. Bring back to a boil for an hour
  12. With 30 minutes remaining, add the US Goldings Hop Pellets
  13. With 15 minutes remaining, add the Irish Moss Clarifying Agent
  14. Sanitize the lid of the pot
  15. When the hour is up, use an ice bath in the sink to cool the wort to 70°F
  16. Sanitize everything the beer will or could touch
  17. Strain the wort and pour the beer into the fermentor
  18. Add cold water to the fermentor to make the total amount of beer 5 gallons
  19. Sanitize yeast packet and add the yeast to the beer
  20. Put the sanitized lid on
  21. Keep some sanitizer in the airlock and place it on top
  22. Duct tape on the lid
  23. Record original gravity reading
  24. Store and wait 2-6 weeks


  • 5 Gallon Stainless Steel Stock Pot
  • Strainer with Double Fine Mesh, 8-Inch Diameter
  • Ice
  • Thermometer
  • Fermentor
  • Bubble Airlock
  • Hydrometer
  • Stir Spoon
  • Star San Sanitizer
  • Spray Bottle

We bought this Brewing Kit  from Amazon to get the basic materials.

To Begin… heat

First, begin to heat (not boil) 2 ½ gallons of water in your 5 Gallon Stainless Steel Stock Pot . Keep the temperature below 170°F. Shoot for approximately 160°F. Overheating the water will create too strong of a flavor (astringency) in the beer (like leaving a tea bag in too long).

Take the yeast out of the fridge to warm up. Yeast has to be managed carefully throughout the brewing process. This is a special yeast designed for warmer temperatures; it should brew a better beer during the warmer summer months. 

Measure and Steep

Measure out 2.0 oz Maillard Malts English Roasted Barley, 8.0 oz Caramunich Malt, 4.0 oz Special Roast, and 2.0 oz Chocolate Malt.Add all of these ingredients together in steeping bag and steep 30 minutes. Maintain a temperate between 155°F-170°F. We get our ingredients from Northern Brewer

Red Irish Ale - Beer - Malt

Occasionally move the bag around. This insures all of the grains in the bag become exposed, but never squeeze the bag.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - steeping Red Irish Ale - Beer - steeping

Remove Steeper

After 30 minutes, remove the steeper. Bring the mix to a boil. 

Red Irish Ale - Beer - remove steeper

This mixture is now called wort. Wort is unfermented beer.

Mix in Malt Extract

While the water is warming, fill the sink with extremely hot water. Place the malt extract in the steaming water to make for an easier removal process.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - malt extract

Once the water is boiling, mix in 6 lbs malt extract. Make sure to stir constantly while pouring in the malt.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - malt extract

Hop Additions

Next, mix in 1.0 oz of Willamette Hop Pellets. This hop has a mild, pleasant, spicy, floral aroma that is typical for American and English beers.

Now, return the wort onto the stove top. Bring back to a boil, and let it boil for an hour. Stir the wort for a few minutes. Make sure the malt is combined thoroughly.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - hopps

Add Us Goldings and Irish Moss Clarifying Agent

With 30 minutes remaining, add 1oz US Goldings Hop Pellets. Stir.

With 15 minutes remaining, add 1tsp Irish Moss Clarifying Agent. Stir.

Sanitize-Ice Bath-Sanitize

While waiting for the hour to conclude, sanitize the lid of the pot with the Star San sanitizer.

When the hour is up, use an ice bath in the sink to cool the mixture to 70°F. It is not necessary to use ice, however, the ice cools the beer off a lot faster.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - ice bath

Before the unfermented Irish Red Ale goes into the fermentor, everything needs to be sanitized with the Star San including, the fermentor, strainer, lid, airlock.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - sanitizeRed Irish Ale - Beer - sanitize


Use the Strainer with Double Fine Mesh, 8-Inch Diameter to strain the wort and pour the Irish Red Ale into the fermentor. Keep the time exposed to oxygen to a minimum. Pouring into Fermentor will aerate the wort (yeast need oxygen too!)

Red Irish Ale - Beer - aereat  Red Irish Ale - Beer - aerate Red Irish Ale - Beer - fermenter

Add Water

Add as much water as needed to the Fermentor to make the total amount of Irish Red Ale 5 gallons. We had to add 3 more gallons of water.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - water


Sanitize the yeast packet with the Star San and add the yeast to the Irish Red Ale.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - yeast

Lid and Airlock

Put on the sanitized lid. Keep some sanitizer in the Bubble Airlock and place it on top. Some people use vodka for their sanitation, but we used Star San.  

My husband likes to duct tape the lid on. He doesn’t trust the airlock seal. Fermentation can be violent. Think beer volcano.

Red Irish Ale - Beer - lid and airlock

Gravity Reading

Finally, take original the Irish Red Ale’s gravity reading with the Hydrometer . Ours was 1.040. This should give us a beer with a nice sessionable ABV (alcohol by volume) of about 4%. 

Red Irish Ale - Beer - original gravity reading


You are now ready to store your Irish Red Ale and wait 2-6 weeks before the next step. When fermentation is complete I will post again with the next steps. Within 12-24 hours fermentation should begin. You ought to see activity within the fermenter and the airlock. It will look like a whirlpool inside the fermenter and the airlock will start bubbling.Red Irish Ale - Beer - fermenter

You can hear our son John playing with keys in the background as we watch our Irish Red Ale fermenting. 🙂

While waiting for your Irish Red Ale to ferment, this is also a good time to let a teething baby chew on one of your bottles. 😉

Red Irish Ale - Beer - baby - teething

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