Reverent and respected are all who partake in St. Patty’s Day traditions – festivals, parades, and shamrocked hoolies where we gather to salute many Irish spirits and the rich flavors of liquid hops and roasted barley. Like every March 17th, the bag-pipes bellow as devout beer drinkers raise their pints to rejoice in all that is Irish and green. But that doesn’t mean the beer should be green.
See 2014 Best Stouts post – #StPatricksDay
There are hordes of traditional, great tasting Irish beers that will make top ten lists for donkey’s years. From creamy Irish Red Ales of Sam Adams, Smithwick’s, Killian’s and Kilkenny to the “black stuff” (stouts) from Murphy’s, O’Hara’s, Porterhouse and of course, Guinness … everyone knows these scoops go down the cake-hole like a bang-on river dance.
The following list of “deadly” craft beers can definitely hold their own with the classic Irish groggs and make that green manky brew seem like a jar of slash. But bare no ill feelings towards those gee-eyed bollocks who’d rather get mouldy with green-dyed domestic lager (while scuttering off to the jacks). Going green is our St. Patty’s Day master plan to keep that shower of scavages far far away from this limited and luscious list of beers sure to have us gobsmacked and singing Pot O’ Gold ‘til the wee hours of the night.
TIP: Bring a stiff shillelagh to keep you upright and make use of these beer apps to slurry through the day with a bit more intelligence. Also, check your Locals’ schedules as many hoolies will happen on Saturday this year. Slainte!
- Brian Boru Old Irish Ale (Three Floyds)
Famous for their Zombie Dust release, this hazy orange-red ale offers a huge billowy head. It’s super rich with an amazing toast and caramel taste that’s perfectly balanced by both hop flavor and citrusy bitterness. Who doesn’t love Amarillo hops!
- Conway’s Irish Ale (Great Lakes) 6.50% ABV
One of my favorites in this style…it’s big with a bright copper and ruby-red hues, oodles of hop bitterness with a notable toasty malt presence, and crisp grainy sweetness to keep our whistle wet with joy. You’ll feel Irish with a pint of this stuff, even if you’re not.
- Bourbon County Stout (Goose Island) 14.5% ABV
One of the hits at Day of the Living Ales last month in Chicago, this bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout is dark, dense with foam you can float on. It’s intense charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke will blow your your mind lads…seek this limited release often.
- Irish Ale (Boulevard) 5.80% ABV
This seasonal Irish Ale is made special for the new year is a clear dark ruby-red tribute to Ireland, with just the right blend of toasty malts and flowery hops to make it a classic in its own right.
- Celtic Red (Harpoon) 5.40% ABV
This Boston beer screams St. Patrick’s Day, vibrant clear translucent copper-amber, floral hoppiness with rich caramel-bready malts. A sweet, easy way to say goodbye to winter.
- Milk Stout (Left Hand) 6.00% ABV
Famous and readily available, this dessert like stout is all black, roasty sweet, milk chocolate exultation. It goes down easy and have you beggin’ for another pint.
- Black Top (New Glarus) 6.90% ABV
My fellow home brew buds at Forest City Brewers rave about this beer (plug!). This dark dark ruby brown with a light beige head has a leathery sweetbitterness and piney wetness that makes this an easy drinker. Black Top will instill a little Irish in anyone, even Canadians.
- Irish Style Extra Stout (Schlafly) 8.00% ABV
For the brave…This one will leave you shook…great double darkness, complex, huge maltiness with black liquorice, toffee, caramel, and chocolate undertones. Perfectly balanced with generous the hops. Yum.
- Irish Lager (Rogue) 5.00% ABV
Pale golden color, slight haze, thick frothy head, Bread-like malt flavor with some herbal hop bitterness, light hint of citrus and apple crisp finish. Rogue suggests this for floating your Guinness.
- Dark Star Stout (Starr Hill) 4.20% ABV
This dry Irish Stout is a multiple award winner, blacker than night with a thick creamy off white nitro head. It starts off with hints of coffee and smoothly slides into a nice velvet chocolate finish. Robust and light tasty bliss.
The Wild Cards:
- Cane and Ebel (Two Brothers) 7.00% ABV
From the western suburbs of Chicago comes this very dark mahogany, hazy “Hopped Up Red Rye Ale” with a big headrush of rye flavor, full of hop goodness that’s slightly sweet and a tad bitter as it goes down. You’ll be thinking about this flavor for a while.
- Dirty Bastard (Founders) 8.5 ABV
This incredible Scotch Style Ale is brewed with seven varieties of imported malts and dark ruby in color and. The finish is very complex with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a hoppy attitude…this beer ain’t for the wee lads!
There you have it…an alternative list of incredibly big beers brewed with an Irish tradition in mind… me thinks Bono and The Edge might even approve. U2?