IPA Mick comes to us from Brisbane via Dublin. While a big beer drinker in Dublin, he cut his teeth on Coopers and Hahn Premium to keep his sanity when first arriving in Australia. Finally a friend gave him a Hargraves ESB, and he hasn’t looked back since. You can follow Mick on Twitter here.

This article is part of an ongoing series about “conversion beers” – the story of getting hooked on great craft beer. To see all articles, go here.

This is IPA Mick’s conversion beer.

IPA MickI can’t remember my first beer but, like most Dubliners, Guinness played a huge role in setting my tastes buds in the right direction away from fizzy, dominant lagers. We are a lucky bunch that we were fed the black stuff from an early age and as the saying goes, “once you go black, you never go back” (not true by the way). But it’s not Guinness that I have the fondest memories of as a teenager drinking on the streets of Dublin. It’s Smithwick’s; an Irish Red Ale that was my chosen tipple.

My niece recently visited me here in sunny Brisbane and when she asked me if I would like anything from home, the answer was the easiest I have ever made. A can of Smithwick’s please –  she brought me 6, God bless her.

It was the first sniff of that first can about 4 weeks ago that set the memories off and where I now know my love of Red Ales was born. Yes, I am a roasted barley lover. I love hops but if it isn’t a red based beer then it is missing something in my opinion. Why only have half your cake when you can have it all?

My first discovery of an Imperial Red was probably the best day of my beer adventure to date. Not sure which one it was but it was an American West Coast Ale, and they do it well. We have all seen the rise in Reds, Imperial Reds, Rye IPAs, Ambers, Barley Wines, Hoppy Brown Ales and the like and long may it continue. The flavour spectrum is intense.

Smithwicks Pale AleI introduced a friend to Reds recently with one of the Mountain Goat Rare Breeds and his look was accusing as he bellowed “How long have you know about this?” Needless to say, we are on a quest to find the best of the style and as many Australian ones as possible. As I type this I am sipping on a Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack from Bridge Road Brewers which is a cracker from a cracking brewery.

So next time you head into the bottle shop and are looking for a nice hoppy hit, why not go for a double whammy and grab a nice Red IPA. The hop may be King but no King can rule without a Queen to keep him company. As James Brown sang, “It’s a man’s world, but it would nothing, nothing without a woman by his side”.

Off with his head.