TODAY, WE’RE ALL IRISH!

It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away. -U2

As a fellow with a goodly number of Irish ancestors, I’ve always had a particular fondness for St. Patrick’s Day (it of course doesn’t hurt that I lived in Boston for a number of years).  It’s second only to Halloween in my favorite holiday rankings (Halloween > St. Patrick’s > Thanksgiving > S&BJ Day > Christmas > Independence Day > anything else that gives me a three day weekend > Talk Like a Pirate Day > Canadian Boxing Day).  It’s long been treated as a celebration of Irish culture, though of course it has its roots in an interesting combination of Celtic and Catholic religious celebrations (and the apocryphal notion that St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland).

Regardless of all that business, I’m here to talk about drinking.  I’m going to leave whiskey to the discussion of some other blog (plus, I’m more of a bourbon and/or scotch guy than I am an Irish whiskey guy) and get to the point: St. Patrick’s Day is the top holiday in terms of beer consumption in the United States (unless you count the Super Bowl as a holiday).  But that doesn’t mean you have to drink a bunch of crappy (BudMillerCoors) Light dyed green.  I think we can even do better than Guinness, though I’m certainly not going to heckle anyone who decides to go that route.  No, I’m going to turn this over to the Aleheads to give us some ideas.  So, fellas, what beer(s) will you be drinking on St. Patrick’s Day?

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BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS

A decent-sized wedge of the Shepherd’s Pie-Chart that makes up Brother Barley’s ancestral heritage hails from the Emerald Isle. As such, I’ve always had a soft spot for St. Pat’s. Sure, I don’t take advantage of it quite is “heroically” as I used to, but I still tip back a few brews on the 17th of March each year.

In my heyday, the simple and honest answer to this question would have been “an unfortunate quantity of Guinness Draught”. Guinness Draught is an oddity of the beer world. No Alehead of sound mind would honestly proclaim it to be a “great” beer. Yet we all have a nostalgic soft spot for the brew since it played such a crucial role in turning us all into the judgmental beer monsters we’ve become. It’s a gateway beer if ever there was one. Not as robust or complex as the beers we tend to champion on this site, but certainly more flavorful and tasty than the macro-swill of the world. While I rarely order one these days, on the infrequent occasions when I do, the simple, creamy, slightly sour, well-roasted stout transports me back in time in a way that no other beer can.

Because of that history, I’ll honor Guinness with an answer to this Conundrum that pays homage to my St. Patrick’s Days’ past while celebrating my current appreciation for more “interesting” brews. Though Lord Copperpot is our in-house poet laureate, I’ll take a page from his book and answer in limerick form:

“I love St. Pat’s Day!”, I’ve oft boasted.
As far as beer holidays go, it’s the mosted.
But on that day, which suds
Should I drink with my buds?
A dark ale of course, black and roasted!

To the rooftops Brother Barley will shout:
“On St. Paddy’s day, when I am out!
I will certainly finish
A whole heap of Guinness
Specifically Foreign Extra Stout!”

Doc once wrote said beer an epic love letter
‘Cause the FES is a true beer “go-getter”
Compared to other Irish brews
It’s got more hops and more booze
It’s like Guinness Draught…only better!

Before my response makes you enamored
Let’s listen to the other Aleheads yammer
Tho’ their answers seem fair
I should remind you that they’re
All dumber than half a bag of hammers

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DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE, III

I’ve been told I’m about as useful as a half a bag of assholes, been half in the bag and wholly hammered, but I assure you I’m smarter than a half a bag of hammers.  Unless we’re talking about one of those electric hammers that Thomas Edison / Homer invented.  If that’s the case, I see your point.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the Conundrum.  Since I’m an Irishman living in the Boston area, you know full well that I’ll be generously lubricated on plenty of Irish suds before the 17th comes to a close (any beer will do, but I like mine from the homeland).  A belly full of corned beef, cabbage, turnips, and soda bread provides plenty of backing for a night of gross consumption.  Well, since I can’t rhyme and don’t like to count all that much, I figure I’ll just form some nonsensical words into a cool shape to express what I’ll be drinking.  If it makes sense, you may want to stop drinking.  At least until the next commercial.

Beer
I like beer
I like Irish beer
I drink my beer in cans
And I drink my beer in bottles
For this I need a 4 pack of Murphy’s
To that add a 6 pack of lovely Smithwick’s
What’s better than a Murphy’s next to a Smithwick’s?
I’ll tell you, it’s a Murphy’s on top of a Smithwick’s of course
Irish Dry Stout is nothing if not a spectacular choice
I like mine creamier with a touch more roast
Then we’ll go over to the Irish Red Ale
Caramel, nutty, dry on the finish
To top it off we’ll mix em’
A Black & Tan, yes
Then Whiskey
Then Beer
Beer

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HERR HUMULUS HORDEUM

At the risk of blasphemy, I’m not that big a fan of St. Patty’s. I don’t like drunk people, unless they are me, my friends, my family, or sometime my pets. Then it’s cool. I strictly avoid going out, and remain at home or at a friends, low key. I am not averse to corned beef.

So what to drink? A holiday calls for something special. Yet Irish beer is very much an everyday beverage. Needless to say, a stout is in order. The common imports are cliche, yet a Russian Imperial would be over the top. What to do?

As a compromise, I’ll go American Craft, but an Irish Dry style. I haven’t decided yet, but I will buy either Avery Out-of-bounds, or stay more local and go for a simple Boulevard Dry Stout. No wait, I’ll buy both. That’s what I’ll do.

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A SHOILSE PINTY O’CHUG

I have about as much claim to Irish heritage as Oliver Cromwell.  Additionally, as a Jew, I am not supposed to celebrate holidays having to do with the saints of other faiths.  But I love a party as much as the next guy, so I guess I’m in.

I actually concur with Herr Hordeum that St. Patty’s day is a day for the amateurs to hit the bars and me to stay home.  I’m also on board with the dry Irish stout.  Unlike him, however, I’ll make a modicum of effort to answer the Conundrum that our quasi-Irish pal McBrewin’ asked.

So, dry Irish stouts.  Are they really Irish?  I’m not sure.  Definitely British.  My simian understanding of the history is that around the 18th century, there were two types of stouts produced for domestic consumption in the British Isles: dry stouts and sweet stouts.  Near as I can tell, the primary difference is that dry stouts were historically made with unmalted barley, while sweet stouts were pretty malty.

So why do I agree with Hordeum that the dry Irish stout is the way to go for St. Patty’s?  Well, the three most important factors in a go-to St. Patrick’s Day brew are Session, Session, and Session.  If you’re going to pain the town, you may as well have more than 3 beers before you fall asleep.

A dry Irish stout typically has a lower ABV and much less malty sweetness than most other stouts–certainly the milk stouts, cream stouts, double stouts, and Russian imperial stouts that charm the Aleheads.  If you’re going to plow through stouts all night, there aren’t many better choices than Three Floyds Black Sun.  Since I’m not driving to Indiana for St. Patty’s Day, though, I will go with the North Coast Old #38.  So if the Commandress is not in labor this Thursday, I’m sitting at home with whoever wants to join, knocking down about half a dozen 38s.  Slainte!

Or, as the Irish might say, may the frost never afflict your Spuds.

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LORD MASHTUN COPPERPOT

I don’t have Guinness in my fridge
Nor other sundry Irish stout;
I fear my post must be abridged
Unless I grab some when I’m out.

The FES is always nice
And with Moylan’s you can’t go wrong,
But I’ve something that should suffice
(though, to Ireland it don’t belong).

I’m glad to stay home on my couch
Spouting Alehead-ian lingo,
Flipping the bird to brother Slouch
While sipping a Yorkshire Stingo.

Sam Smith is not an Irish bloke,
You’re right. OK. So sue me.
But Stingo ain’t no fucking joke,
And should be a perfect proxy.

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KID CARBOY, JR.

This is what I get for being the last Conundrum contributor this week. I am going to be heading to the local beer package store later today and was fixin’ to pick up some St. Patrick’s brews, but both of my intended purchases, the North Coast Old #38, and the Moylans Dragoons Dry Irish Stout, have already been spoken for! Nonetheless, they are both still fine beers, and more importantly, both available in central Illinois.

I do have a love affair with both Ireland and dry stouts. Speaking as a huge folk music geek, even if I’m not one of this site’s Boston residents, the country calls to me year-round. I’m the kind of guy who actually goes to those Irish fests and sees all the bands, and will continue to entertain secret desires to play the fiddle until he dies.

I also love dry stouts–there may be no better Aleheads session beer. In the U.S., the North Coast Old #38 is among the very best available. It’s a beer that every Guinness fan should be forcibly choked on until they understand what Guinness was supposed to taste like, and admit “you know what, flavor is better than no flavor.” The Moylans, on the other hand, represents more the foreign export stout, at 8%–the nightcap of the evening. If I can polish off a few Old #38s and a bomber of Dragoon, listen to a few Town Pants albums, and then doze off during a 3 a.m. showing of “The Quiet Man” on Turner Classic Movies, it will be a night well spent.

…and remember–I’m the YOUNG one here. Perhaps there’s something in craft beer that activates a latent “fogeyism” in young men? Professor ph Lager, get on that.

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BEERFORD MCBREWIN’

Though I don’t think the Commander consciously intended to write “pain the town”, I believe that may be the most inadvertently honest thing he’s ever said.  Paining the town is really an incredibly apt description of his entire ethos.

Anyway, it seems like we’re pretty well on board with dry Irish stouts being the way to go for this greenest of holidays.  As for me, I’ll probably start the evening off with the standard Guinness/Bass black and tan, just for tradition’s sake (Ireland over England and all that).  But once I’m done with that obligatory first pint, I think I’m going to spend the rest of the evening working on a few Moylans Dragoons Dry Irish Stouts.  I just recently discovered that there’s one little bottle shop in my area that carries Moylans brews, and I’m pretty happy to have them available.

So break out your shillelaghs, go forth and be merry, and beware the little people!  Slainte!

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2 comments

  1. “Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.”
    -W.C. Fields

  2. Yup, I’m stealing that.

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