Beer Tasting Tips

The Final Draft > Smithwick’s Beer Tasting Tips

Smithwick’s Beer Tasting Tips

Smithwick’s Beer Tasting Tips

Beer tasting in Kilkenny is one of the best things you can do during your visit to this historical city. Smithwick's Red Ale, Pale Ale, and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale are three acclaimed beers in the international beer landscape. With their distinct flavours and character, they offer a unique beer tasting experience. If you're looking to deepen your appreciation for these brews or simply want to embark on an exciting beer tasting journey, these tips will be your ultimate guide.

A Brief History

For 50 years, the Kilkenny Arts Festival has grown to become one of the leading festivals in Ireland. What began as a modest music and arts event has blossomed into a vibrant, multi-disciplinary festival featuring visual art, classical music, theatre, literature, dance, and more.

1. Appreciating Beer Styles

Each beer style has a distinct character, and Smithwick's offers three excellent examples. Smithwick's Red Ale, an Irish Red Ale, has a balance of bitter and sweet with malt and roast characters, while Smithwick's Pale Ale offers a fresh, fruity taste with a rich caramel aroma. Understanding these beer types enhances your tasting experience. Our Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale offers sweet malted bread flavours with a rich smoothness.

2. Appreciating Colour and Clarity

Before you indulge in these brews, take a moment to appreciate their appearance. Smithwick's Red Ale exhibits a beautiful ruby red colour, while the Pale Ale offers a vibrant golden hue. The clarity varies between these beers, each indicative of their style and brewing process. The appearance of the Irish Cream Ale is a deep ruby red colour due to the addition of roasted barley and a creamy thick head due to the addition of nitrogen gas.

3. Engage Your Sense of Smell

Smelling your beer is integral to the tasting experience. When you swirl the Red Ale, you might detect subtle caramel and floral aromas. The Pale Ale, on the other hand, gives off a more citrus and floral scent with hints of biscuit-like malt. These aromas set the stage for the forthcoming flavours. The Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale has sweet biscuit notes that blends with roasted coffee & dark chocolate accents.

4. The Act of Tasting

Now, it's time to taste. Take a sip of the Red Ale and let the malty, sweet, slightly hoppy flavour dance on your palate. In contrast, the Pale Ale will present more bitter notes, balanced by a light, fruity flavour. Try to identify these contrasting tastes and the sensations they evoke.

5. Understanding the Aftertaste

Post swallowing, the beer leaves a residual taste known as the finish. Smithwick's Red Ale tends to have a fairly clean, slightly dry finish, whereas the Pale Ale offers a more lingering, bitter finish. The aftertaste is a significant component of your beer tasting experience, giving each beer its prolonged impression.

6. Considering Beer Temperature

Temperature plays a key role in beer tasting. While both Smithwick's Red Ale and Pale Ale should be served cool, they don't have to be ice-cold. A slightly warmer temperature allows for the full expression of their flavours and aromas.

7. Palate Cleansing

If you're sampling both the Red Ale and Pale Ale, cleanse your palate between the beers. This step ensures that the robust flavour of the Red Ale doesn’t interfere with the lighter, sharper Pale Ale. Plain crackers, bread, or even water work well for this purpose.

8. Enjoy Responsibly

Regardless of how delicious Smithwick's beers are, remember to enjoy them responsibly. The purpose of beer tasting is to savour and appreciate the craft behind these brews, not to over-indulge. Too much alcohol can also impair your senses, reducing your ability to distinguish the nuances of these brews.

In the world of beer tasting, Smithwick's Red Ale and Pale Ale are delightful subjects of study. By applying these tips, you'll unravel the craft, history, and flavour profiles of these beers, enhancing your beer tasting journey one sip at a time. Raise your glass to this fascinating exploration!

Evening Tours with Ale Tasting

A private evening tour or event, shared with colleagues or your family and friends, makes for a very memorable beer tasting experience. Evening tours can be arranged at special request, with minimum group numbers required. To enquire about booking an evening tour, please contact us at


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