Weekly Beer Geek: Phelan Irish Red
- Article by Luke G
- May 24, 2012
Phelan Irish Red
Tri-City Brewing Company
The Beginning: The name caught my eye here. In the amazing fantasy series “The Deed of Paksennarion” (hey, I’m not ONLY a geek for beer) there’s a character named Phelan, known as “The Fox.” Phelan Red Ale has a fox (or possibly wolf) in silhouette against a moon on the label. Interesting. On further research, I find that Phelan is an Irish/Gaelic male name, meaning “wolflike.” Not only that, but one of the variant forms, Falon, also has a version that is a surname. What surname, you ask? O’Fallon, of course, as in O’Fallon brewery, maker of fine beers and some of the greatest specialty brews I’ve had. Don’t believe me? Check my archives. So the wheel goes round and round, and the connections just keep coming.
The Brewer’s Pitch: Phelan is an Irish ale in the traditional style with some special twists to keep it interesting. Deep ruby in color with a creamy head, the beer is medium in body and has a clean mild malt aroma. With barley mash and two types of malt, Phelan is a malty beer with slightly sweet layers of toffee flavor. The finish is dry and very delicately hopped, keeping the flavor of the roasted grain while still remaining clean and tangy.
The Beer: Like my last Tri-City beer, this is a bit lighter than I expected. A deep reddish-amber, Phelan sports a dense, creamy, pale-tan head. The aroma is pure grain with a slight acidic edge. On the tongue the creamy head is translated into an incredibly smooth beer, much more so than I’d expect outside of an unfiltered beer. Phelan is a thick bready brew that wears its grain heavily. This density is balanced by the quantity of barley, which has a distinctive tang that cuts through the malty wall. Running through it all is a very subtle sweetness. True to Tri-City’s promise, there is a toffee quality to it along with something smoky and a bit nutty.
The Breakdown: The flavors here are good, although lacking some pop. I’m all for deep flavor but these malt notes are too flat - the barley tang cuts it but not as it should, and the beer is under hopped and fails to bring that clean, bitter pucker to the very back of the tongue where all the bitterness receptors are. On the other hand, the toffee sweetness is very good, a mellow smoky flavor that makes me think of good coffee without actually tasting like coffee. It’s overall a fairly average beer, with some interesting flavors that make it worth trying once.
The Bottom Line: I usually try to spread out beers from the same brewer, and this is coming hard on the heels of Hell’s Half Mile - well I realized halfway through the review, so if you don’t like it then tough titties.