Red Hop Ales - The New Black (IPA)?

Well hopped, slightly US inspired red ales seem to be becoming more and more popular with UK breweries.

Examples are already out there; I wrote recently about Rapture from Magic Rock, and of course BrewDog's 5am Saint has always been a great beer (although technically it's an 'iconoclastic amber ale' but lets not split hairs...) even Hardknott's Infra Red could probably be cited as a current example, plus there's Rouge Hop from the ever reliable Summer Wine Brewery. Red ales as a style just have a fantastic depth of malt flavour that balances out heavy hopping really well, and you end up with a really tasty beer.

Perhaps Red is the new Black (IPA)? Maybe not, but I could definately see Red Hop Ales, or Hoppy Red Rye Ales, becoming something more and more breweries have a go at, because they are just so damn tasty.

In fact, it's quickly becoming a style that I actively seek out, to the point where if I had the choice between an IPA or a hoppy Red Ale from the same decent brewery I'd most likely choose the latter. Which, for a hop-head like me, is a dynamic shift.

A beer which I tried recently just about fits itself into this category, with a well-judged level of hopping riding on top of a complex red malt body, I'm talking about
Williams Bros Cock o' the Walk Scottish Red Ale.

Cock o' the walk pours a bright clear red colour, pure scarlet infact, which you can't really see from my picture. Low carbonation with a small head that receeded to a thin ring, that said the carbonation in the body is perfectly fine. Light, dry, citrus hops and a little wheat biscuit in the aroma, a hint of sweet berry fruit syrup as well.

The flavour is faint dark berry fruit, plenty of sweet malt, with a nice complexity of different malt flavours including a dry biscuit note. Then comes a nice dryness in the finish from the citrussy hops.

It's a really nice, well balanced beer with a hugely complex and satisfying array of malt flavours, and just enough hops to keep everything in check. The only thing I would say is it might actually benefit from being served on cask to give it a bit of extra mouthfeel, which was possibly the only thing lacking from the bottle version.

Also, it's definately a British style red ale rather than a super hopped US inspired version, but it still has enough juicy hop character to keep it firmly in the modern style 'red ale' category.

Modern ERA as opposed to ARA perhaps?

You can buy Williams Brothers Beers online via their online shop, or at MyBreweryTap.

Thanks to Williams Brothers for sending this through for review.


  1. Reds are pretty big right now. And there are some good ones around. I like the nutty maltiness with the big US hops - makes some nice beers.

    Is it the next big thing? Probably a few months ago but I bet we've already moved past it!

  2. 'Next big thing' isnt really what I meant, more that reds are 'en vogue' at the moment and I think they are a trend that could stick around. Black IPA's have been a style loads of breweries have tried, not just the ones ahead of the curve but more traditonal breweries too.

    I think red hop ales could move over to the mainstream in the same way IPA's, and to a certain extent black ipa's, have done.