St. Patrick’s Day featuring the County of Cork Refugee Red Ale

Its St. Patrick’s day again! I was raised a Catholic in the Boston area and there is no greater place to see Irish heritage than in the Boston area. The Irish-American roots run very deep in Boston, as seen on many movies and TV shows. St. Pat’s Day is a very big deal in the city of Boston and its celebrated with a parade like no other in the United States. The city shuts down on March 17th every year because of the huge celebrations and because Boston and Suffolk County celebrates  Evacuation Day, a legal holiday which is observed on the same day…St Patrick’s Day.

My grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from southern Ireland (specifically County Cork) back when he was a just kid ,along with his brother and sister. They left during a tough time in Ireland when the IRA were really stepping up their guerrilla activities against the British and in those violent, troubled times, who could blame them for wanting to leave? This very act made them refugees. County Cork was known for its anti-British sentiments during Irish War of Independence and was in general a violent place to be in the early to mid 1920’s. Cork City itself was center for Irish nationalism historically, and the Cork City people are very proud of their heritage as well as their home county.

My grandfather was still very proud of his Irish roots despite being an Irish citizen living in the U.S. while my father embraced the “Irish Pride” as well. My grandfather was an active member of the Irish American Club and my father was a member of the Knights Of Columbus for years. Unfortunately both are gone now, my father died 2 days after St Patrick’s Day last year. That is also around the time when I decided to start this website,  just few days after his untimely death. I pay tribute to both my father and grandfather with the Irish flag on the header of this site, and have since the very first day.

According to my grandmother, homebrewing is not just some obsession of mine apparently. When I was back in Boston this past October to attend my cousin’s wedding, in passing she told me that my grandfather used to brew beer all the time around the time they got married.  She said that he used to keep it by the stove/oven where it was warm, obviously to keep the yeast active. Not much advanced technology for the few homebrewers there were back in the old days!

So as a tribute to St. Pats Day, my late father and grandfather , and a year anniversary of this blogsite, I have decide to post an Irish red ale recipe aptly named the County Cork Refugee Red Ale dedicated to each of these things. I like to think of it as a tribute ale.

  • An Irish Red Ale for Irish-American Heritage

The Erin-go-bragh flag, sometimes called the Irish-American flag, features a gold harp with the words Erin-go-bragh (Ireland Forever) on a field of green. Versions of this flag were carried by Irish regiments in the civil war.

This recipe features an excellent base malt of Golden Promise (Scottish malted barley) ,UK hops, UK specialty malt (with the exception of the special roast) and of course Irish Ale yeast. If you can’t find Golden Promise, Marris Otter will work fine. If you have ever used GoldenPromise (or Marris Otter),you will know it has a superb rich, sweet flavor.  It converts pretty fast and has excellent yield. The featured crystal malt is UK Crystal and has a different flavor from the 6-row american varieties that are so common. It will give it a more British ale character using the UK crystal instead of the american stuff… believe me there is a difference in flavor! The lovibond of each is pretty important. The lighter one is 60L and the darker is 120L. Combined, these two crystal malts will the beer  a “red” color.  Also in the mix are the malted oats. This will add protein to the mash and in return will give the beer better head retention. The downside is that the beer may have a protein haze. Small price for a great beer! The bittering hops are a UK variety, Challenger.  Paired with the Challenger are the famed East Kent Goldings for the dry hops addition. These two work extremely well together,  similar to Amarillo and Cascades or Citra and Simcoe.

These hops are a common match up with Goldings in the flavor position. I have an ounce of Goldings for the dry hop addition but there is nothing stopping you*hint hint* from adding in some Challenger to the dry hop addition as well. It is a duel hop with a spicy, earthy profile that will work well as dry hop addition along side of the Goldings. Of course this brew would not be complete without the Irish Ale Yeast. Using the White Labs or Wyeast strains of Irish ale yeast will not make a difference. They both pretty much are the same thing, giving the same profile to the final beer.
So enjoy yourself today, as on March 17th, everyone is Irish, not just the “Plastic Paddys”! Here’s to a year of this website and a year since Pop’s been gone.  Sláinte mhaith to you all!
  • Sláinte to Dad and Papa wherever you guys are, I hope the brews are good and cold. Happy St. Pat’s Day to you.
May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way,
May all the Irish angels ,
Smile upon you on St. Patrick’s Day

County Cork Refugee Red Ale

Brewer: Beaconhills Brewhouse

Style: Irish Red Ale

TYPE: All Grain



Batch Size: 6.50 gal

Boil Size: 8.30 gal

Estimated OG: 1.053 SG

Estimated Color: 13.4 SRM

Estimated IBU: 21.5 IBU

Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %

Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Amount                                                                                         % or IBU

10 lbs         Golden Promise (Thomas Fawcett)                      78.43 %

1 lbs           Oats, Malted (Thomas Fawcett) (2.0 SRM)         7.84 %

12.0 oz      Special Roast (Briess) (50.0 SRM)                          5.88 %

8.0 oz        Crystal Extra Dark – 120L (Crisp)                             3.92 %

8.0 oz        Crystal Malt – 60L (Thomas Fawcett)                     3.92 %

1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (Dry Hop)

1.00 oz       Challenger [7.50 %]  (60 min)                                 21.5 IBU

1 Pkgs        Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084) or White Labs equivalent

Single Infusion mash at 152 degrees F. Try to use whole hops when possible if you decide to dry hop in keg. Pellet hops tend to leave some particles in the finished beer on occasion when keg-hopping.


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