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My thoughts on Red

So I thought I would post some pictures of my recent brew, since it demonstrates one of the more interesting aspects of beer color… the color red. The SRM scale really shows a move from light gold to dark brown, with red somewhat, but not really, falling in the middle of the scale. A brew could have the same SRM rating, but have a noticeably different hue to it, from brown to copper to ruby, depending on the ingredients and process. It is interesting to me the role that red plays, especially when trying to accomplish a certain feel to the beer. It could be a staple, such as in an irish red or perhaps a belgian pale, or it could be part of some vision for a Xmas brew or Valentine’s brew.

This pale ale I brewed (aka Hobart Ale, or Halfway IPA) had one of the more interesting color characteristics that I have seen in a brew. Looking at it under different lighting conditions yielded different colors, where a reddish hue would appear in some cases but not in others.

Ok the darkest one was taken with a flash and the others weren’t, and I am taking pictures at different angles… but still its pretty cool that it is the same beer. (Slight difference in volume is due to an occasional sip in between photos). The next question would be what causes the emergence of red in a beer, but for now I must return to work.

Which leads to the question of how SRM is determined - is there a uniform lighting associated with that? I assume so, but I never really thought about it. I knew that the same beer looks different in a pitcher vs. pint glass vs. stang or other narrow vessel, but never thought about the nature of the light exposure affecting its color that much!

Good point, good photos.


If you really want a load of the technical detail regarding SRM and color measurement, I highly recommend listening to the Brew Strong episode on color. It is a bit on the technical side, but gives just about everything you would want to know about beer color.

Here’s some technical details about SRM. The standard uses a 1-cm thick sample of beer and is a measure of the absorption of a specific wavelength (430nm - blue) light.

Do you mind posting your recipe? Those are some pretty nice colors and I made an American Amber Ale that disappointingly came out more copper than anything. I’ve heard Special B and Crystal 120 is a nice combo for a good red color

Interestingly enough, there were no dark grains in the recipe.

Was a 3 Gallon batch. I can give you exact details if you actually want the specific recipe.

45% Vienna (weyermann)
45% Rahr 2 row
7% Caramel 60
3% Carapils

Wyeast 1272
60 min Falconcer’s Flight 7cs
20 min Falconer’s Flight 7cs
3 min Falconers flight 7cs
Dry hopped with Centennial

Keep in mind that the general color was kind of an amber orange, but it obviously took on this really cool ruby color in the right light. Also it was uber windy outside, so I did this on the stovetop which led to a very mild boil. So darker colors cant really be attributed to an aggressive boil or anything.

And for sh%#s and giggles, my tasting notes are that the falconer’s flight and the 1272 together resulted in a little more fruity flavor/aroma than I wanted (even though it fermented around 65F). I’ll probably bitter with columbus next time and use FF just as a flavor or aroma addition, switch to 1056, and up the percentage of vienna a little.

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