For the average American, the Feast of St. Patrick is a good excuse to wear a lot of green and drink a little too much. And while we’ll leave you to pick out whatever green it is you wish to wear, we thought we’d take some time to review some of our favorite St. Patrick’s day beers. Even though not all these beers come from Ireland itself, they’re all pretty tasty and perfect for a bit of celebrating.
Of course, no talk about Irish beer can happen without a discussion of Guinness. Most people have strong feelings about the stuff — people that love Guinness are passionate about it and people that hate it tend to make all sorts of animated faces at the very mention of the name. I’ve always been pretty fond of Guinness on tap, but the bottled and canned offerings have often seemed like a poor substitute. Guinness Extra Stout in a bottle is a tasty beer, but it’s a lot different than drinking a pint in the bar. Guinness has gone a long way toward solving that problem with Guinness Draught Extra Cold (see left), a bottled beer that manages to capture almost all the taste and texture of a tap-poured Guinness. This beer has a rich, creamy texture to it and a smooth drinkability unmatched by any other Guinness product I’ve tried.
Another great discovery we’ve made this spring is Boulevard Brewing Company’s Irish Ale, a deep red beer with a very good malty flavor. Fans of Irish classic Smithwick’s will enjoy Boulevard’s take on the style. I found the Boulevard offering to be a bit richer in flavor than Smithwick’s without the overpowering caramel flavor that can sometimes rest a little thick on the tongue — and don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Smithwick’s, so my saying that Boulevard’s Irish ale is better is a huge compliment. The brewery doesn’t make this beer year round, and there’s been several places I’ve heard of in Arkansas selling out, so be sure to pick this one up if you see it. Jess even likes this one, and she’s generally not a fan of the heavier malt styles. Our own local brewery, Diamond Bear Brewing, also brews a very drinkable Irish Red Ale, although it is far better fresh from the tap than out of the bottle.
Fans of lighter beers may enjoy Murphy’s Irish Red, from the same folks who make the very fine Murphy’s Irish Stout. This red ale pours a vibrant copper color and is flavored with sweet malts with just a bit of bitterness on the finish. It’s a very approachable beer, and friends who prefer American light beers will probably take to this one before any of the others we’ve listed here. Of course, there’s always the Coors version – Killian’s Irish Red, but Murphy’s has a lot more flavor and character than Killian’s. Both are quite drinkable, though, and both are a nice companion to food. In any case, with a bit of luck, you’ll be transitioning from beer to Jameson at some point anyway, and we can only ask that you try to maintain a bit of dignity. If that’s too much to ask, at least you can stay away from green-dyed Bud Light and drink something a bit more appropriate to the occasion. I’ve only been able to scratch the surface here — there’s a whole world of delicious Irish-style beer out there. Enjoy!