I have had a good deal of Murphy’s Irish Red in my day- and in my nights. For the most part it’s been the draft version as served in a dark, dank Irish Pub. It’s dry, crisp and hoppy with a rich red hue.
The bottled version is also dry, crisp and hoppy with a rich red hue- but it is extremely carbonated. It is carbonated to the point where its taste presents itself like a cheap domestic lager rather than a well crafted red ale. This is unfortunate but it’s not unique to this beer. Over-carbonation seems to be part of the whole bottling process when it comes to beer since shelf life (and evaporation) are a big concern. Among the beers that I find to taste better on tap are Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Harp Lager and Pete’s Wicked Ale- but those bottled versions aren’t bad, they’re just not as good as the draft. The Murphy’s bottled version is a little closer to bad.
It’s sad, but you may want to try a Killian’s Irish Red if you want a better tasting beer- it’s possible that America has once again improved upon a European original. But if you want to keep it Irish, I would recommend Harp Lager over Murphy’s Irish Red, especially if you’re trying to keep it “reel” and red on St. Paddy’s. If you find historical data about a brewer appetizing, it may interest you to know that the Murphy family has been brewing beer in County Cork, Ireland since 1856. In addition to their Irish Red they also brew an Irish Stout. The Murphy family is second only to the Guinness family in the production of beer in Ireland and it’s export out of Ireland.
If you want to go with Harp you are not going Irish but rather going Canadian. If I’m not mistaken Guinness closed the Dundalk brewery quite awhile ago and licensed Harp to be brewed in Canada. You might try Smithwicks which is the Guinness owned ale that replaced Bass in their portfolio. Guinness wanted to import Smithwicks into the U.S. for many years but was unable to due to a contractual agreement with Bass. When Bass left it opened the door for Smithwicks importation.
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