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Caught Red-Handed

Caught Red-Handed

Exploring American Red/Amber Ales

When it comes to beer, everyone knows that familiar golden hue of the classic American lager. There’re also the coppery browns, and deep dark stouts that you see scattered around your local bar or in the house of your beer enthusiast friend’s house. But what you don’t see very often are red beers. What are they and why are they red?

A red ale (or lager) is an American style beer brewed with a proportion of caramel and specialty malts to create depth of color and flavor. There is no hard rule defining what a red ale is which is why even the Great American Beer Fest (the Oscars for beer) groups both red and amber ales in the same category of American Red/Amber Ale. It’s almost like they didn’t know what to do with them, so they just threw them together and lightly defined the category as malty brews with a color ranging from red to brown and variations in between.

These beers have a malty backbone with a moderate to heavy mouthfeel and usually carry a rich, caramel flavor throughout. Basic Amber ales tend to go easy on the hops and have an IBU that’s lower than your basic pale ales, while American Reds have much more of a West Coast influence meaning they typically have a drier hoppier finish. American Reds feature all the flavor intensity of a richer, darker ale but also the crisp, hoppy finish of a blonder beer.

We’ve put together a collection of some we think you’ll like!

Odell Brewing Extra Special Red

A crimson-hued brew full of juicy hop flavors and aromas of pine and stone fruit that is aged for six months in rye whiskey casks, that imparts notes of sweet vanilla and soft tannins, while the hops settle into the background in favor of the strong malt foundation.

NXNW Red Zepplin Irish Red Ale

A well-balanced Irish red ale featuring a medium body and subtle caramel and toffee notes from its malt forward character.

Wild Acre Brewing Tarantula Hawk India Red Ale

An American style, Red IPA dry-hopped with an abundance of coveted Mosaic and Amarillo hops. The deep red color is derived from a blend of Two Row, Victory, Munich, and dark caramel malts.

Real Ale Red King Imperial Red Ale

A beautiful colored, 8.6% Imperial Red Ale brewed with English malt and American hops that opens with a shallow hit of fruit that quickly fades to let the hops shine.

Smithwick’s Premium Irish Ale

A distinctive ruby red color and refreshingly balanced taste created from a blend of mild hops, sweet malt, and roasted barley.

For these and other great beer choices, stop by your nearest Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods and ask our beer experts for more recommendations!


Owned and operated by the same Houston family since 1962, Spec’s is a true destination shopping experience. We now operate over 150 stores all over the great state of Texas and offer a large selection of wines, spirits and finer foods.

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