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Irish Red Ale - REALLY Dark

We brewed a 10 gallon, All Grain Kit of the Irish Red Ale from Northern Brewer yesterday and it came out almost black. It’s supposed to have an SRM color of 10 or so, but it looks like it’s well over 20-25.

We also killed our efficiency…97.75 percent! That’s the highest we’ve ever been.

I thought maybe I calculated incorrectly, but I ran the numbers two more times and they both agreed. Didn’t think that high of an efficiency was even possible?

Could that be a contributor to the dark color? We’ve done this one in the past and I don’t recall it ever being so dark. It almost looks like a stout!

Perhaps NB didn’t measure the grains properly?


Is that color in the fermenter, or color in the glass? It always looks darker in bulk. And was your OG where it was supposed to be? But if the color is real, and the OG is significantly higher, then a mixup in the grains is the most logical explanation. Did the slip they supplied with the order match the recipe?

Not knowing your system, it’s REALLY difficult to get that high of efficiency on the homebrew scale, and I’d question it if it’s significantly higher than you typically see. That being said, if you actually had more grain in the mash tun than was in your calculation, you would calculate a higher efficiency than you actually achieved.

One thing you could do, assume you actually got the same efficiency you normally do, and figure out how much grain it would take to hit your OG. Then plug in that grain bill into your calculator and see what SRM you get from the finished beer. If they did indeed send you 50% extra grain, it would certainly lead to a higher OG and a much darker beer. And it would throw your efficiency calculation way out of whack.

Thanks @porkchop and @jimrmaine.

We’ve brewed this exact recipe in the past and are nearly positive it wasn’t this dark. Granted, it was a few years ago, so our memory may be a little off!

The packaging slip had the correct grain amounts on it, but I’m thinking NB inadvertently measured out 2x the amount of dark grains. The recipe calls for .25lb of Chocolate Malt for a 10 gallon batch, but it looked like there was at least half a pound or more in there!

That may also explain why our efficiency was so high because we were calculating with less grains in the mash than there actually were.


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I just brewed this same kit for a 5 gallon batch, and it also turned out very dark. It is not similar to any red I have had recently, and it looks like, and very much tastes like, a stout. I wanted to check the reviews and forums to see if anyone else had a similar experience.

While I am disappointed that it was not more of a red as intended, it is an EXCELLENT tasting beer if you just imagine that you started out brewing a stout! Am wondering if they mixed up the grain mix…

Yeah… we’re not THAT worried about it. After all, beer is beer!

3-gallon BIAB recipie nere. It also came out very dark. Also very tasty; I’m not sure I’d want to “fix” it.

Oh, I’m not saying it’s not tasty! Just not what we were expecting nor what we had purchased. It tastes like there was more chocolate malt in the grain bill, hence the darker color and more chocolatey flavors.

I often brew a modified version of the NB Irish Red Ale. The recipe is for 5 gallons so the UK Chocolate is only 0.125 pounds. Since I live 10 minutes from the Milwaukee (really West Allis) NB store I get the grains out of the bins and mill it myself. I usually overshoot by 0.1 pound and figure that’s close enough. But overshooting a 0.125 pound target by 0.1 pound nearly doubles the amount! In those instances my “Irish Red” comes out “Irish Dark”. The lesson I learned was that I really need to hit those smaller targets exactly. Most importantly it still tasted darn good! So, I think it’s almost certain that whoever filled your order at NB simply wasn’t paying close enough attention.

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Yep. I thought the exact same thing. Possibly a new employee who didn’t truly understand how exact the measurements need to be.

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