The spectrum of red, hoppy beers currently proving popular with drinkers owe their origins to the convergence of two modern American craft beer styles.
The American amber or red ale was a twist on the American pale ale, with a more caramel malty flavour and a copper to amber hue, with low to moderate hop aroma.
The American IPA meanwhile was a US interpretation of India pale ale, higher in alcohol and bitterness, with hop aroma tending towards citrus, pine and tropical notes, courtesy of generous New World hop additions.
Recent years have seen the amber ale largely transformed by American drinkers’ obsession with aromatic hops, as American beer expert Randy Mosher recently reported in his book Tasting Beer.
“Amber has really kind of faded away and turned into red, and red has become a pretty hoppy beer, often with the addition of rye and sometimes some palm sugar,” he told Radio Brews News recently.
“It’s interesting, what was once a foundational style for craft beer has mostly gone away or certainly transformed itself into a darker IPA or a red IPA.”
This shift may not have been quite so pronounced in Australia, but the lines have certainly become blurred between American amber, India red ale and red IPA.
Typically at the stronger, more bitter end of the spectrum are those beers actually labelled Red IPA, such as Modus Operandi Brewing Former Tenant.
At 7.8 per cent ABV, Former Tenant is more at home in the IPA category than American Style Red, as the genre is known in the Australian International Beer Awards.
New in this assortment of red and amber beers is the latest release from Little Creatures, Fire Falcon Hoppy Red.
One of Little Creatures’ 2017 Seasonal releases, which are limited run products for winter and summer, it has a lovely hop forward flavour that is perfect for the cooler months.
Little Creatures Fire Falcon Hoppy Red
Fire Falcon melds the caramel, raisin and nut characters contributed by six specialty malts with citrus and pine aromas courtesy of Falconers Flight and Centennial type hops.
Two Brothers Brewing Grizz
Grizz is a full-bodied amber ale showcasing fresh American hops from Yakima Valley, Washington that recently won gold at the 2017 Australian International Beer Awards.
Modus Operandi Brewing Former Tenant Red IPA
This multi-award winning beer is ruby red in colour, offering a complex blend of citrusy hops and savoury caramel malt flavour, followed by a slightly sweet finish.
Young Henrys Winter Hop Ale
This season’s India Red Ale combines warming biscuity and fruity malt flavours with a full hit of classic Aussie and American hop aroma.
Akasha Brewing Company Fire Within Amber Ale
A rich copper colour and caramel sweetness is balanced with floral and citrus notes from American hops.
Kaiju! Beer Hopped Out Red
The AIBA 2014 trophy winner for Best Amber/Dark Ale offers tropical, piney aromas layered over a complex biscuity-toffee malt profile.