It's here everyone, Saint Patrick's Day. And the best part is, that it's barely a day at all, rather a week long celebration of drinking beer and pretending to be Irish. Ireland has been celebrating March 17th as a religious holiday since the fifth century, when Old Saint Pat himself croaked. The Holiday remained to be pretty low key in Ireland until the 1970's, but the United States turned this date into a party a couple centuries ago. In fact, the first St. Patrick's Day parade was in New York City in 1762, and still continues to this day, being one of the biggest parades in the country. Today, we celebrate by kissing people with T shirts who tell you to do so, and drinking Green Labatt Blue (big business joke here).
This year, however, is special.
Because my very own boyfriend (and President of the Untied States) Barack Obama will be brewing his own batch of beer and serving it on St. Patrick's Day, to guests in the White House. I am still awaiting a little Leprecauhn to come deliver my invitation to join him, but he has a few days. But it's true, Obama-be-Brewin'! And since he has to be the first person to do everything, he is the first recorded President to brew beer inside of the White House. Again, making history. He will be serving his very own "White House Honey Ale", using the honey from the White House beehive. Since the chances of any of us trying a sip of this beer is completely zero, here are some St. Patrick's Day must-haves for the week:
Carlow O'Haras Celtic Stout (4.3% ABV) During St. Patrick's Day, most people turn to the classic Guinness, which in fact, is one of my favorite beers. But it's important to support a variety of breweries, including this small brewing company called Carlow, in Carlow Ireland. The O'Hara family started this brewery in 1996 and have been making Irish style ales ever since. This Celtic Stout is a Dry Stout, and is as smooth as they come. The first time I tried this beer, I said goodbye to Guinness and Murphys right away. You may find yourself chugging these so fast you turn green, but it's a good week to do so. It's a perfect session beer because it has a smooth and rich balance, and a low ABV. The nose is sweet and malty, so you know that you will be tasting some chocolate. Flavors are a creamy blend of espresso (roasty and bitter) and of sweet chocolate. Very thin in body, making it so unbelievably drinkable. This beer won the Championship Trophy and two gold medals at the International Millennium Brewing Industry Awards in 2000, and still tastes as good.
Avery Out of Bound Stout (5.1% ABV) Another roasty stout, with a bit more flavor. As Avery claims, "This big, roasty stout takes flavor to the extreme!" Which may or may not be true. Not as much of a session beer as the O'Hara's but nothing a true Irish couldn't handle. This beer pours black, and if you hold it up to the light you won't be able to see anything shine through. (I am honestly having a hard time writing this blog because I LOVE STOUTS and all I want to do is go sit on my porch in the sunshine and drink one). But this stout has that thick dark roast a lot of people look for in a stout. This beer has a stronger aroma of dark chocolate, malt and even hazelnut. The taste is similar, with a bit of a hop character coming through to lighten up the maltyness. The bitter flavor from the roasted malt and the high carbonation help to clean up the palette, making you thirsty for that next sip. Yum, I love being an American Irish.
Flying Bison Brewing Co. Aviator Red (5.2% ABV) Now, I know I will be drinking a lot of this on St. Patrick's Day. Flying Bison is a small brewing company in Buffalo, NY and has been filling pints around Buffalo for almost 11 years. And if you need to know anything about Buffalo, it's that we love beer. Aviator Red is Flying Bisons flag ship ale, and certainly should be. Modeled after an Irish Red Ale, this ale is brewed with 6 different malts which give it the rich malty flavor and beautiful ruby color. This brew has a decent amount of hops which help to balance out the malt flavor and give a nice bitter kick. The flavors are of nutty malt, hints of chocolate and caramel, and the hoppy bouquet balances wonderfully. A great beer to share with friends whilst walking to the parade downtown. A Saint Patrick's Day must have (and if you're in Buffalo, pick up their Oatmeal Stout too!)
Ah yes, the season of longer days and warmer nights is almost upon us, and I couldn't be more ready. Be sure to try something different this season, because not only are there a lot of good Irish Stouts and Irish Red Ales out right now, but there are some tasty Spring seasonals that you should check out before they are gone too! Email me your spring favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org!
JibJab - One Lucky Leprechaun by JibJab