Saint Patrick’s Day is approaching in the next couple weeks. Many people in the United States will celebrate by going out to the bar and drinking copious amounts of beer from one country or another. Most people will adopt the mentality of everyone being Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and have Irish beer. What people may not know is that there is more than just the famous “meal in a glass.” The Irish have crafted a few varieties of beer in their alcohol portfolio, each with a different profile and purpose. Here is a guide to Irish beers that will educate all on the ways of the Irish.
One of the most common beers in Ireland is the red ale. Red ale is a sweet, malty-flavored ale that is copper in color and medium body. It is the most common ale made in Ireland and is usually around four percent alcohol by volume. Some famous labels include:
Smithwick’s – The most famous of Irish red ales, it is one of the most popular Irish beers internationally. Many discerning beer drinkers will choose Smithwick’s as their beer of choice in a pub when they are looking for something lighter in the Irish beer department.
Killian’s – Now owned by Coors, Killian’s is one of the most well-known red ales in the United States. It is marketed as the quintessential Irish red ale to people in America.
Lagers are a light and crisp beer that are brewed in colder temperatures than ales. When many people think lagers, they either think American lagers like Budweiser and Coors or German beers like Beck’s. Many other countries produce lagers because the grains don’t have to necessarily be barley or wheat. Irish lagers are brewed with barley due to its prominence in the country.
Harp is the most recognized lager in Ireland and is sold internationally. In many pubs in America, it could be said that the trifecta of Irish beers would be Guinness, Smithwick’s, and Harp.
This dark malty beer is the most famous export of Ireland. Many people envision all Irish beers to look like stouts. As mentioned above, there are a few other varieties of beer that add diversity to the Irish beer portfolio. Aside from Murphy’s, O’Hara’s, and other local breweries in Ireland, the most famous beer is of course…
Guinness – The most marketed Irish beer in the entire world, Guinness is a staple of the Irish pub. There are differences in the production of the beer for different regions. Covering the differences between Irish Guinness and other imported Guinnesses would take another article in and of itself. The version drinkers have in America is known as “the meal in a glass” for its heavy body and filling feel that comes from consuming many.
St. Paddy’s Day is the day that people come together in the spirit of community and beer. Knowing that there is more than one Irish beer can help to give a new light on the holiday.