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Spare a thought for poor old red ale, the most unloved of Ireland's "traditional" beer styles, at least by the latter-day craft movement. Presumably people are still buying them out there because even small breweries will occasionally brew them. I have two such for you this autumn day.

In a very-craft 440ml can comes Renegade from Dublin City Brewing, the second Irish beer to use the name, after Soulwater's American-style amber a few years back. It's a suitably middle-of-the-road session-strength 4.2% ABV and a pleasingly limpid dark garnet colour. It's mostly quite dry, almost roasty but not quite. Overdone sticky caramel is the bane of this style but it's successfully avoided here. Stopping it from being boring is a floral complexity: a violet and elderflower perfume; as well as a dusting of flaky milk chocolate. More of these features would be welcome but the underlying gravity just isn't big enough for anything more than a quick burst before it fades out into watery disappointment. This is designed for quaffing, and I threw back my glassful with ease. There's the makings of a quality sipper here, however, if they ever decided to imperialise it a little.

To compare and contrast, Heaney Irish Red, only a little bit stronger at 4.5% ABV. It's part of the bottled core-range of Heaney beer, along with a Blonde and a Stout, both of which I've enjoyed. It's a deep ruby red in the glass, and a little murky with it. The yeasty lees provide a spice to the aroma. The flavour goes big on burnt, in the best possible way: a crunch of caramelised sugar and a wisp of smoke. After an initial sweetness the finish is clean and dry, and not too soon. This is a class act; a wholesome roasted Sunday joint in a glass; perfect winter drinking that doesn't have to blow your head. Once again, Heaney has delivered a safe middle-of-the-road beer that's far from boring: the classical elegance that German brewers turn out effortlessly but which is less common here.

Neither of these are dull predictable Smithwick's clones: both bring a unique sensibility to the Irish red genre and offer the punter something of real interest. The dark and moody stylings of Heaney was my preference over Dublin City's brighter, sweeter take.