This year, why not put the Guinness down and reach for an American Irish-style stout for St. Patrick’s Day?
Okay, that does sound a tad ridiculous — and honestly, you can’t go wrong with Guinness at all — but American brewers are doing a heck of a job with their Irish-style stouts.
Irish dry stouts are an awesomely simple style, brewed with roasted barley to give off qualities of coffee and chocolate while drying out the finish. Hops add a nice bitterness to balance it all out and it’s often nice and thin for excellent drinkability. Generally low in alcohol content, these beers are surprisingly low in calories, too, and can be accentuated with a thick creaminess from nitrogen.
Irish dry stouts are an awesomely simple style, brewed with roasted barley to give off qualities of coffee and chocolate while drying out the finish.
Like other beautifully simplistic beers, these smooth stouts are so often overlooked because big flavor is generally hot in craft beer. Big, boozy barrel-aged stouts and, now, sugary sweet pastry stouts are all the rage, so it’s been tough for the American Irish-style stouts to gain any traction. Plus, Guinness was once often the only stout people knew about when there were essentially two beer styles in America: lager and stout.
Never fear, however, with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner at least and Americans make darn good Irish-style stouts. Here are some of the best. (If you’re more of a whiskey person, check out some of the best Irish whiskey.)
Breckenridge Brewery Nitro Dry Irish Stout
The Colorado brewery prides itself on this stout, which just became a year-round beer last years. Breckenridge Brewery will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a big way, with the highest pop-up Irish pub in the world at 10,010 feet in the mountainous town of Breckenridge, Colorado. Also in the spirit of the holiday, Breckenridge has hidden golden cans in its 12-packs Nitro Irish Stout, which could win a trip for two to Ireland.
Harpoon Brewery Boston Irish Stout
An Irish-style from Boston, who would have thunk it? Surprisingly, Boston’s Harpoon Brewery didn’t brew Boston Irish Stout until 2013, but it’s a creamy smooth tribute to the Emerald Isle to which so many in Boston trace their roots. True to Irish stouts, it clocks in the low-4 percents in alcohol by volume, so it’s excellent for a few in celebration. Harpoon also makes Irish Cream Stout, aged in Jameson casks, just to double up the Irish connections.
Great Lakes Brewing Company Wolfhound Stout
Cleveland prides itself on its blue-collar history and many of Great Lakes Brewing’s beers hit those notes perfectly. This one would require a trip to the taproom, but it’s worth it for a tall pint of this roasty goodness. And it helps that the beer is named after one of the most majestic and terrifying but sweet dogs, the Irish Wolfhound.
Fonta Flora Brewery Irish Table Beer
Fonta Flora has made plenty of waves in the beer world from its home state of North Carolina. Fonta Flora’s Irish Table Beer won a medal in 2014 at the Great American Beer Festival medal for this beauty. It’d be the perfect beer to have on the table while digging into a feast of Irish classics, like Shepherd’s Pie.
Third Street Ale Works Blarney Sisters’ Dry Irish Stout
This just might be the quintessential American Irish-style stout. Since Third Street Ale Works opened in the 1990s, the brewery has brought home loads of awards for its Irish stout. Roasty but light, this Blarney Sisters hits all the right notes for the style and at 4.1 percent ABV, it’s good for a few.
Schlafly Beer Nitro Irish Stout
Stouts are a big deal at Schlafly in St. Louis. The weekend after St. Patrick’s Day, the brewery throws a massive Stout & Oyster Festival with more than 15 stouts brewed up for the event and brings in more than 80,000 oysters from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Not bad for a Midwestern state. Included in those stouts are a Nitro Irish and Irish Extra Stout, both a perfect match for slurping down the mollusks — as are other true-to-style Irish stouts.
Societe Brewing The Pugilist
San Diego’s Societe Brewing is a masterful example of doing traditional styles well and also exploring some of the crazier sides of beer. The Pugilist is a perfect example of one of its traditional styles. This beauty’s brown head and jet black color make you think it’ll be heavy, but despite its big roastiness, well-balanced hop bitterness, acidity, and low ABV hit the sessional qualities of a traditional Irish dry stout.
Short’s Brewing Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout
A simple recipe completes this smooth yet flavorful stout from Northern Michigan’s Short’s Brewing. Short’s is known for its many wacky experimental brews, but this one keeps it tight. Quite a bit stronger than many of the other Irish-style stouts on this list at 5.8 percent, it packs a bit of a punch.
DuClaw Brewing Celtic Fury
Like Uncle Steve’s, Celtic Fury is a touch higher in ABV than many of the other on the list, but Duclaw Brewing‘s offering still is fairly low at 5 percent. The creamy body with loads of roasty coffee and chocolate notes is balanced by the earthy English hops and dry finish. As with every beer on this list, it’s a solid way to sip on St. Patrick’s Day.