St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which means that you’re probably planning to start early. Very early.
Don’t fall for the green beer trap yet again – we all know that anything that can be turned into a shamrock-colored hue isn’t good, or Irish. You won’t be judged by us if you ignore this advice, but we can’t speak for everyone. There’s nothing that says you are an amateur at St. Patrick’s Day like a green mouth.
We have a couple of recommendations to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day like a true craft beer connoisseur while also not dishonoring any Irish heritage you may claim:
1) Southern Tier Thick Mint Imperial Stout – 10% ABV, Stout, Seasonal – It combines dark beer with mint (more like a Thin Mint cookie than a Shamrock Shake, both of which are also perfectly acceptable to consume on St. Patrick’s Day.) Admittedly, yes, it’s 10%, so you can’t have a lot of it, but having one or splitting a big bottle with friends is sure to enhance your relationships.
2) Blue Toad Paddy Green Hard Cider – 5.5% ABV, Hard Cider, Seasonal – This dry yet refreshing cider is available in two places – Rochester, NY and Virginia. No, it isn’t green but it is available this time of year. While you could probably toss in a little green color for festiveness, I’d encourage you not to. It’s got a bit of sourness to it, which I quite enjoy. It may also be a great option for anyone in your life who “hates” beer but you are required to invite to your party despite their poor taste.
3) Harpoon The Craic – 6.9% ABV, Irish Red IPA, Seasonal – If yours will be a Hoppy St. Patrick’s Day – give this new seasonal from Harpoon a shot. This is the only one on the list I haven’t personally tasted, but think you might enjoy since I haven’t had a Harpoon beer I didn’t like. It promises hops with a delightful maltiness and falls on the hoppier side of the scale than, say, CB Craft Brewing’s Big Irish Rover Red Irish Ale (which is delicious but harder to find).
(And hey, as it turns out, we did a podcast about Big Irish Rover too, check it out here. )
4) Great Lakes Brewing Company Conway’s Irish Ale – 6.3% ABV, Irish Style Ale, Seasonal – While it’s been on the shelves for a little while now, this is a sure-fire sign that Spring is on the way. It’s not too heavy, not too hoppy, and definitely deserves a place on the beers you should drink for the holiday. And if you’re out in Cleveland – the brewery is worth stopping into all year round.
5) Genny Bock Beer – 5.2% ABV, Bock Beer, Seasonal – This beer arrives on shelves and taps with much fanfare every year (at least in Rochester). And, as it’s canned, you stand a better chance of finding it well outside the area. And the can is green, so it’s festive. And yes, it’s a Bock, which isn’t an Irish style beer at all, but for only 5.2% ABV, it’s the lowest alcohol on the list and the goat is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Honorable Mention (AKA Only Available at the Brewery and Not Available Elsewhere)
Harpoon Boston Irish Stout – 4.3% ABV, Stout, Year-Round – Only available at the Boston and Windsor, VT breweries of Harpoon, this stout does great honor to Boston’s Irish Heritage and also is right up there with Guinness in terms of great stouts (it actually tastes very similar to, and I’d argue better than, Guinness. Prove me wrong). Fret not – if you don’t catch it for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s available year-round. If you’re at the brewery, you may as well try the Harpoon Dark too, which is also only available at the Brewery and a handful of places outside of it.
Genesee Brew House Michael Shea’s Irish Amber – 4.8% ABV, Irish Amber, Seasonal – Using the original recipe (with one slight deviation, made with 100% malted barley) this one was released for the first time in forever by Genessee Brewery in time for St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ll be at the Rochester Parade, make the pit stop to pick up a pint, a crowler, or growler and let us know what you think.
Resurgence Brewing Company Irish Breakfast Ale – 5.2% ABV, Irish Red Ale, Seasonal – The creators say that it tastes like a McGriddle with notes of maple syrup, smoked bacon and coffee. It’s canned this year as well, so if you have a good friend in the Buffalo area, you may be able to snag some yet.