by Jude Ellman
If the IRA really loved their country as much as they claim they’d have blown up every Guinness brewery from Munster to Ulster. To celebrate Saint Patty’s Day with y’all this year, let’s talk about why.
Don’t get me wrong… it isn’t bad. It’s just that, well, it’s frankly mediocre compared to so many other wonderful brews that are crafted on the grassy isle. Ireland is renowned for their enthusiasm for booze. Us Yankees stole their patron saint just for an excuse to get drunk. I contend that if we’re going to import their culture, we should get the good stuff too! We deserve to drink better than their bodyless bottom of the barrel stout. Our Saint Patty’s Day should be just like theirs, damn it.
In the name of some delightful cultural appropriation, lets dive right into this like a leprechaun into a pot of gold.
1. O’hara’s Irish Stout
We aren’t going to keep it so dark this whole article, I promise! I just figured it would be best to start stout for stout. Back in 1999, the three-year-old Carlow Brewing Company launched their lovingly made answer to Guinness in the form of O’Hara’s Irish Stout. May I tell you, they answered correctly. Everything that Guinness is lacking in body and flavor, O’Hara’s more than delivers. Every sip is as much an adventure as the first. There are some coffee tones, a little bit of a chocolate kick, and the thick malt you’d come expect of a stout. Give it a try, you’ll only be able to think of Guinness as a cheesy world records book from now on.
2. Sullivan’s Red Ale
Before I start, it’s worth mentioning that Sullivan’s also brews a fantastic stout. I would like to leave the workingman’s drink behind for a second and talk about a different brewing tradition. Ale is as old as human civilization. It’s theorized that the reason our ancestors began agriculture in the first place was just because grain production allowed them to get drunk. It makes sense to me; I’d be content hunting caribou if food was the only variable.
Ale is simple, ferments quickly, and does not require a cave to rest in for months before consumption. That isn’t to say there is anything simple about Sullivan’s Red Ale. This malty, ruby brew smells like a dream. It has hints of caramel and molasses and delivers a smooth as hell bready finish. It’s fucking good… trust me.
3. Smithwick’s Red Ale
I’ve got another little red gem for you. Smithwick’s Red Ale is an old beer, but a great one, nonetheless. They’ve been making the stuff since 1710; they are an entire lifetime older than Guinness. There is nothing hard to drink about this beer, no element completely outshines another. The word that I think best describes this ale is balanced.
It’s nutty, malty, bready, and just at the right moment sweet on the finish. I consider this ale to be a danger to my personal safety.
4. Five Lamps Lager
In the heart of Dublin, Five Lamps is a brewery that, aside from having one of the coolest beer halls I’ve ever seen, produces a damn fine amber lager. It is a refreshing and crisp drink that you can tell took its sweet time to brew. There isn’t anything heavy about it. With a 4.2% ABV, you can’t go wrong. It’s easy drinking.
Lagers are not a steeple of Ireland. This beer is a welcome change of pace in Irish brewing. Enough said.
5. Scraggy Bay
Kinnegar Brewing is a fantastic manufacturer overall. If you want something, they brew it, but at least to me, they have a standout IPA. Scraggy Bay has a well-balanced ABV of 5.3% while never failing to deliver a hoppy and almost bitter citrusy finish. It’s a crisp, golden pale ale that doesn’t require half the effort it takes to slog down a Guinness. If IPAs are your cup of tea, don’t overlook Scraggy Bay this Saint Patty’s Day.
I pray I’ve been able to help you make a better choice. And if I haven’t… I’ll be too drunk to give a shite come Friday. Drink responsibly, and a lot. May we successfully continue to denigrate the Irish to a nation of alcoholics. They don’t seem to mind!
Happy Saint Patty’s from me, and everyone at Gonzo Today.
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