If you’re just drinking Guinness and Killian’s around St. Paddy’s Day, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t settle for the most prevalent of imports. Say no to the obligatory green-dyed ale that’s more than likely just Coors. Instead, be on the lookout for some tastier, lesser-known options from Irish brewers.
Ireland is famous for its stout, but the scene goes above and beyond just one kind of beer. Brewers from Cork to Kilkenny are turning out delicious IPAs, red ales, American ambers, and more.
Many of these brews are not widespread in distribution channels here but thanks to the internet, they’re still accessible. And when possible, support the innovation at play with organizations like the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland, just look for the logo on the label.
The White Hag Irish Brewing Company Black Boar
This imperial oatmeal stout is involved, with a complexity of flavors ranging from malt and breakfast pastry to caramel and roasted coffee. It’s the work of a much-admired northern Ireland craft brewery located in the town of Sligo, a town set along the rugged Wild Atlantic Way. The brewery’s work includes some solid IPAs and sours as well, in addition to frequent collaborations with other producers all over the globe.
Eight Degrees Brewing Amber Ella
An American amber brewed in Ireland, this beer has a bit of richness, rounded out by generous hop notes and some tropical fruit flavors. A little nutty, a little briny, and a little sweet, this small-batch beer satisfies fully. Eight Degrees launched in 2010 and hails from Cork, at the base of the Galtee Mountains. If you can’t find this beer at your favorite shop, keep your eyes peeled for Eight Degrees’ Irish Red, another quality craft production.
Guinness Antwerpen Stout
Fine, we’d better throw a Guinness of some kind on the list. Within the brewery’s lineup and special one-off creations, this beer may be the most coveted. The Antwerpen Stout is luscious, with baking chocolate flavors and a toasty-ness that will warm your soul. Apparently, the beer was initially shipped via the Belgian port city it’s named after. It packs a little more heat at 8% ABV, just so you know. As we welcome spring but evenings are still chilly and worthy of a good fire, crack one of these as you stoke the flames.
Kinnegar Brewery Scraggy Bay
The wonderfully-titled Scraggy Bay is a fetching IPA with nice bread-y and citrus qualities. The small Donegal brewery is known for its farmhouse beers, opting for wild fermentation and unfiltered ales. The outfit expanded to a new production facility in 2017, meaning Kinnegar ought to be increasingly more visible online and in specialty bottle shops.
The most-guzzled beer in Ireland is not magical, but quite tasty given its massive presence and large production. It’s great for day-drinking, as it’s pretty light and sprightly. There’s something very northern European about it, a pleasant enough beer with crispness and bitterness. Try it with traditional Irish fare like coddle, black and white pudding, or Shepherd’s pie. Sure, it’s since been acquired by Guinness, but it’s cool to know the beer has a history that dates back to 1710, on the grounds of an old abbey that started brewing in the 14th century.
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