This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma associate and beer enthusiast Dennis Ayles.
What are your plans on the 17th? Are you going to be bar-hopping all the Irish bars in town? Is this the one time a year you drink a Guinness? Will you be trying to break the record of the most green beers drunk in one day? St. Patrick’s Day celebrations usually last much longer than your normal stop by the pub on your way home from work. In order to survive, it’s important to find a beer with a low ABV% so you can last the entire day of festivities and live to tell about it.
I’m not sure why, but I only seem to cook corned beef once a year — and I want to make sure I’m not full of beer before my first bite. To help you out, I have listed a few alternative beers, which are less filling than the typical stouts but will still taste great with your Irish fare. Additionally, I’ve included a few stouts to seek out if you want to try something different than the standard Guinness or Murphy’s.
|Wexford Irish Style Crème Ale (ABV 5%)
I was sold when I picked up this can and felt the nitrous cartridge. As it began to settle a nice amber beer appeared with a thick white head. If you close your eyes and take a sip the brew is reminiscent of a Murphy’s or Guinness, but the flavor fades into a sweet, malty Irish Red Ale that’s a great alternative to your normal St. Patrick’s Day brew.
|O’Hara’s Irish Red (ABV 4.3%)
I haven’t had an Irish Red beer for quite some time, but drinking this one reminded me how enjoyable this style can be. The dark amber color indicated it was going to be sweet and very malty, but I was surprised as it transitioned into a subtle roastiness and a slightly sour finish.
|Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale (ABV 4.5%)
The name says it all for this beer; it poured as dark as night and felt heavy on the tongue. I definitely need to get back to the store to grab a few more! The heavy roasted flavors of the malts were finished with a burst of bitterness from the three different hops they incorporated, all adding to a great flavored beer.
|Shipyard Blue Fin Stout (ABV 4.7%)
This is a great example of an Irish style stout, and I enjoy it every time I drink it. It starts with a mouthful of roasted malts that tires your tongue, but begins to awaken it with a dose of chocolate and a dry finish. The whole experience will have you reaching for another sip.
|St. Peter’s Cream Stout (ABV 6.5%)
This was a great tasting beer with a medium fill. It gives you a mouthful of chocolate, finished with a citrus tanginess that took me a bit by surprise as I tried to source where it came from.
|North Coast Old No.38 Stout (ABV 5.5%)
This beer sits heavy on your tongue, offering hints of coffee that bring out the roasted barley and malts. It pours as black as coal, with a great thick head that invites you to commit to it. Named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine near Fort Bragg, Old No. 38 Stout is a smooth, firm-bodied stout with the toasted character.
|Porterhouse Oyster Stout (ABV 5.2%)
It wasn’t until I got home from the store that I realized oysters were an ingredient in this beer. With great hesitance, I decided to give it a try. The cap on this bottle is the coolest thing — no bottle opener needed, just pull the tab and the cap pulls right off. Overall, the beer was good; it didn’t overwhelm me, and the oysters were infused well, so you really have to work hard to taste them.
Well, after writing this post I’m not sure I can wait for my corned beef and cabbage. I may have to make it twice this year!
About the author: Dennis Ayles, from Inventory Management, is our resident beer expert here at Williams-Sonoma. He keeps everyone up to speed on the latest trends, his favorite brews and what we should be drinking.