Beer and St. Patrick's Day go together like corned beef and cabbage. The Irish holiday is just a few weeks away, which means it's time to get into the spirit. A great way to do so is with a crisp lager or hearty Irish stout from across the pond.
The masses can have their green-dyed beer. We all know it's just Budweiser anyway. Why not crack a real Irish brew? Granted, many of Ireland's best craft beers are a bit harder to come by stateside (but do ask about them at your favorite bottle shop) but even the larger producers are turning out some pretty tasty suds.
Here are the best Irish beers to drink this St. Patrick's Day and beyond.
Guinness Draught Stout
When one thinks of Irish beer, the image that pops to mind is more than likely a thick, frothy pint of Guinness Draught Stout. The creamy roastiness tricks a mind too, making one think it might be a heavy, boozy beer. But it's quite the opposite. At 4% and 120 calories, the beer is among the lighter options one could tipple.
And it's a great example of a stout, which is good because, for years, it was the only dark alternative to macro light lagers widely available to American drinkers. Guinness has also expanded its lineup in recent years from its Blonde Beer to an array of craft-inspired options from a brewhouse opened in Maryland.
Incredibly, Guinness also recently launched a 0.0% alcohol version that looks just as rich and creamy as the flagship.
Murphy's Irish Stout
The less famous of the two mega Irish stouts, Murphy's Draught Style Stout is perhaps the better of the two. It's a massive flavor burst of roasty coffee and chocolate -- more chocolaty than Guinness. The beauty of the beer, however, is its velvety smoothness that meets a palate with virtually no bitterness. It has certain chocolate milk qualities to it.
Brewed since 1856, it's still made in the southern town of Cork.
Smithwick's Irish Ale
Smithwick's claims it's Ireland's oldest beer, founded in 1710, and it is Ireland's most-consumed beer. The lighter red ale is a bit lighter on the palate than Guinness, so that stat makes sense. Guinness also acquired the brand in 1965, so it's all in the same family anyhow.
With its mild hop notes and light malt sweetness, Smithwick's is a great beer to keep in a pint glass while celebrating a great night.
Another option from Guinness, you'll see there's a trend with many of these Irish beers, is their most macro American-friendly offering: Harp.
The light, bready, clean, and crisp beer is a fantastic classic pilsner. The light hop bitterness on the front end, with a malty finish, is a great way to complement a St. Patrick's Day feast of corned beef and cabbage. It's an easy-going Irish lager ideal for just about any occasion.
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, it can be thrown back with ease without too much concern about the following morning.
O'Hara's also makes a fine lager and stout.
St. Patrick's Day isn't just about beer but the holiday tends to involve a fair amount of ale. Not a beer fan? You can still celebrate properly with a good Irish whisky, great hot cocktail, or even a refreshing NA beer or mocktail.
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