Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all the local Irish and Irish-ish!
For those who plan on enjoying an Irish stout over the weekend in celebration of the patron saint of the Emerald Isle, you may have wondered how a day established to celebrate a Catholic priest, became associated with cheap green apparel and copious amounts of beer. Truly the celebrations have little to do with the missionary that converted the Irish druids to Catholicism. However, since the March 17th date (established in 1631) falls within the Christian period of fasting, known as Lent, it provided an excuse to break their abstinence and enjoy a little indulgence. Given an inch, some took a beer-mile. Things escalated quickly and the Church had to reign-in its members from time to time.
The modern-day St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are owed to the New World Irish immigrants who brought the party to North America. The colour green became associated with the event after the Irish rebellion of the 18th century. The sacrilegious act of colouring a beer green started at a bar in New York in 1914. It’s worth noting that the early version took its colouring from a blue wash liquid. Probably not up to health code. Today, green food colouring is used to dye the beer and bartenders hands — much to the chagrin of beer purists.
Interestingly, not long before this, brewers of the 1900s were rallying against “green beer”. In this case, “green” meant inexperienced, as in under-fermented. The fear was that this sub-standard beer would cause biliousness, which in my non-medical opinion sounds like gas… It’s unclear if undeveloped beer was truly an issue or if it was a marketing ploy to cast doubt over the quality of beer from rival producers.
Fast forward to today — The practice of greening the beer is still not wholly embraced by the beer community. Beau’s All Natural Brewing co-founder Steve Beauchesne explains: “Green beer on St. Paddy’s Day is fun, but ultimately, it’s probably not the most respectful thing you could do with your beer. In my opinion, you should have the best of both worlds and have a Tom Green Beer.” It’s a great suggestion, not only because it’s an excellent play on words, but because the stout is often tied to Ireland, thanks to Guinness.
Here, some suggestions for a proper, local stout:
Clocktower’s Oyster Stout is a great clean Irish-styled stout that gives that classic Guinness mouthfeel when enjoyed on a nitro tap.
Tooth & Nail Brewing’s Fortissimo is a massive imperial stout barrel aged on chocolate and coffee beans. It’s best enjoyed with friends for sharing or, at least, in a non-judgemental environment.
Stalwart Brewing’s Bad Moon Rye Stout is the finest Carleton Place has to offer. Rich and chewy, this dark beer offers just the right amount of complexity.
Nita Beer’s Perfectum is a dry stout that pours a creamy head with notes of soft chocolate. This malt-forward beer is a warming choice for this cold cold St. Patrick’s Day.
Beau’s The Tom Green Beer milk stout, as mentioned above, is a slightly sweet and roasted brew that is readily available through LCBOs and very approachable.
Enjoy the most sociable day of the year and the mispronunciation of sláinte!