This St. Patrick's Day, please respect the beer
This St. Patrick's Day, wear green pants, shoes or socks. Put on a green hat, green glasses, a green scarf and a green wig. Paint your nails green. Slap on some green eyeshadow. Wave a green flag. But whatever you do, please don't drink green beer. The "wearing o' the green" has deep, historical roots in Irish nationalism. The drinking o' the green … less 18th century patriotism, more mid-century collegiate fraternalism. Putting green food coloring in a light American macro beer makes it no more Irish than putting a tiara on a turkey makes it the Queen of England.
There is a well known food blogger who likes to tell people what they should and should not eat (including beer, which she is misguidedly against). Following her lead, I could delve into all the health hazard of green dye — such as how it has been shown to increase the incidence of bladder cancer in male rats. I could warn you that green dye has been banned in parts of Europe. I could make some veiled and a few blatant assertions that green dye is being foisted on an unsuspecting public by shadowy corporate food companies who are trying to turn you and your loved ones into narcoleptic kleptomaniacs in their bid for global domination. And you would do well to take heed because my PhD from Google University makes me an expert and I am telling you to be afraid — very afraid.
But unlike her, I won't resort to scare tactics. I won't try to deter you through threats to the health and well-being of your family. And, unlike her, I won't presume to dictate your drinking habits.
All right, maybe I am trying to gently nudge your drinking habits away from glowing green beverages and toward beers that are truly in the spirit of the day. I am making a plea to your inner Irishman — there are so many more appropriate and better tasting ways to drink your Irish pride than guzzling the green stuff.
Some non-neon options:
Boulevard Brewing Company Irish Ale — Boulevard's "Midwestern tribute to the legendary red ales of old Ireland" is a great, easy-drinking, mid-ABV beer that is the perfect kickoff for your St. Patrick's Day shenanigans.
Rogue Irish Lager — This beer is "smooth and mellow" with an crisp, slightly sweet finish and deemed perfect for floating Guinness — new world meets old!
Smithwick's — In 1950, Smithwick's started exporting their ale to Boston to sell to Irish Americans on St. Patrick's Day. Genius! This is the (untainted) beer you should be drinking.
Schlafly Irish — Style Extra Stout — An amplification of the traditional drier Extra Stouts of Ireland, this beer has undertones of chocolate, molasses, and dried fruit.
Murphpy's Irish Stout — Though owned by the Dutch company Heineken International, this beer is brewed in Cork, Ireland. Less heavy and bitter than Guinness, this is a nice alternative for those who find Guinness to be too much to handle.
And then, there's Guinness, the best selling alcoholic drink in Ireland and a St. Patrick's Day stalwart. This Irish Stout is not nearly as "heavy" as some perceive. In fact, a 12 ounce bottle only has 126 calories! And, studies have shown that Guinness has antioxidant compounds similar to certain fruits and vegetables which are responsible for slowing deposits of harmful cholesterol on artery walls. It's practically a health food and, thankfully, dark enough you couldn't make green if you tried.
You don't put green food coloring in Wild Turkey and pretend it's Irish whiskey. Why do it to beer? There are too many great options, both new and traditional. Leave the radioactive-looking beer to the amateurs. Don't kiss the Blarney stone (or me) with green-stained lips.