To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is, at least in part, to celebrate Irish beer culture. While we love a Guinness now and again, there’s no better time of year to explore some less ubiquitous and even more interesting beers from and inspired by the Emerald Isle.
Nope, we’re not talking about easy-to-guzzle, dyed beer. We’re more into the Irish craft scene which, as the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland attests to, is quite vibrant. It’s a smaller country removed from the many sprawling hop farms we here in the states enjoy, but Ireland touts a strong scene nonetheless. Sadly, most of these beers are only available in Europe, but keep an eye on names like Galway Bay and Porterhouse, as their work may someday soon dock stateside.
In the meantime, we have some great Irish-minded ales available here, crafted as an homage to a particular Irish style. It’s a mean lineup of brews that will give you a taste of the burgeoning Irish craft beer scene and maybe even inspire a trip when the pandemic finally halts.
Whether it’s stout, pale, red, or IPA you’re after, check out these standout beers that channel the spirit of Hibernia.
Iron Horse Quilter’s Irish Death
This Washington-brewed beer functions like a hefty stout, clocking in at almost 8% ABV but impeccably smooth. It shows big chocolate, coffee, and even coconut characteristics and is a great pour for the chilly evenings of late winter and early spring. Consider Irish Death a lovely cross between a stout and a strong ale.
3 Floyds Brian Boru
A fantastic beer from Indiana’s foremost brewery, Brian Boru is a robust Irish-style red. It shows ample tropical fruit notes, a nice malty backbone, and just the right amount of hops, sourced from both sides of the Atlantic.
Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale
A fine option from Great Lakes Brewing, this beer provides a tasty hit of toffee, rounded out by pleasant toasty notes. It’s done quite well over the years at the World Beer Championships and would be a popular pour at any number of charming pubs in Dublin.
O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale
A genuine Irish product, O’Hara’s is brewed in County Carlow. It’s not terribly complex, but more than compensates with a refreshing mouthfeel and some rustic, biscuit-like flavors. It’s a lot like an American amber ale and at 4.3% ABV, can be thrown back with ease without too much concern about the following morning.
Shannon Brewing Mór IPA
Technically a Yankee IPA, this beer is reminiscent of the more restrained Old World pale ale. In other words, it’s not a colossal hop bomb. Instead, it’s a balanced beer from one of Texas’s best Irish-inspired breweries (the beer is named after the Irish word for “big,” by the way).
Wexford Irish Cream Ale
Brewed in England and shipped out to thirsty Americans, this cream ale is all kinds of refreshing. The cream ale category is perfect for easy-drinking and those looking for something along the lines of a Coors or a Miller High Life, only with a little more personality.
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