By Jennifer Russo
At the end of the rainbow, there is supposedly a pot of gold, but I think if I found a keg of good beer, I would be just as happy. Now, while I know Woostonians love their $3 PBR draughts, St. Patty’s Day is a time for honoring a craft that the Irish take as seriously as they do their drinking of these delicious brews. Kindly step away from the light, summery, college-town beers and try something more substantial, more flavorful, more potent and more … well, Irish.
In Ireland, there are really only three types of beer: lager/ale, Irish red and stout. For those new to beer lingo, lager is a light and crisp-tasting beer, reds are usually malty and always full of flavor, and stouts are sweet, dark and creamy.
Lagers that would be worthy of watering four-leaf clovers
Harp (ABV 4.3%): This easy-to-find brew is highly carbonated, pale and refreshing, with light hops and notes of sweet corn. If you are normally a light beer drinker, this may be your best bet if you want to break into craft beers at a slow pace.
Kinsale (ABV 4.3%): Another pale lager that is slightly malty, with some crisp fruit notes and a decent hoppy finish. Though I do like this beer, I think it is more of a summer drink.
Irish Reds that would make a leprechaun blush
Smithwick’s (ABV 5%): Known affectionately as “Smitty’s,” this is a malty, copper-colored beer that has a sweet caramel note and some bitterness at the finish. Definitely better on draught than in the bottle.
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale (ABV 4.3%): It’s a red ale that finishes like a stout, with a creamy texture and hints of coffee and caramel. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find stateside, but if you do find a place that offers it, this is a must-try.
Stouts that will shamrock your world
Guinness (ABV 5%): This is a dark and full-bodied beer, with a nutty, roasted and malty taste. It’s surprisingly easy to drink, despite its appearance, and is by far the best-seller among stout beers in the United States.
Murphy’s (ABV 4%): Personally, I prefer Murphy’s when it comes to stouts on tap. It is a dark brown, smooth beer, with slight tastes of dark fruit (plum or cherry, maybe) and a little bit of a toffee finish. Love it at room temperature.
Beamish (ABV 4.1%): A very dark brown/black stout with coffee aromas and taste, it has a light nutmeg note and a very creamy and lightly carbonated finish.
Hard cider for beer-shy knackers
Magner’s Irish Cider (ABV 4.5%): Made from more than 15 varieties of apples, this very sweet and easy-to-drink hard cider is a deliciously crisp way to get your Irish on if you are not a beer drinker but still want the alcohol content. I warn you, though, because this does go down so easily, you’ll be seeing dancing leprechauns before you realize it.
Green hats tipped to our local breweries
Harpoon Celtic Ale (ABV 5.4%): An amber/dark red ale with a raisin scent and lots of malty caramel and a slightly bitter, hoppy taste.
Sam Adams Irish Red (ABV 5.8%): This is a deep red ale with a roasted malty flavor and a slight cinnamon-spiced note. Personally, I think it tastes best when it’s been in the glass for about 10 minutes.
Wachusett Milk Stout (ABV 5.8%): A dark brown stout, with a chocolaty, cola-type taste and a roasted malt and toffee finish. Great if you like a sweeter stout.
Wormtown Irish Red (ABV 5%): Worcester’s offering to the Irish-style brew, this smooth and medium-bodied ale has a malty caramel taste and aromas of toasted almonds.
Enjoy the holiday and all it has to offer, but remember, if you drink on St. Patrick’s Day ~ or anytime ~ don’t drive.