Saint Patrick’s Day originated as an official feast day of the Catholic church in 17th-century Ireland. The day of reverence was established to celebrate the life and virtuous deeds of Saint Patrick, patron saint of the Emerald Isle. If St. Patrick’s Day took place during Lent, Catholic practitioners were permitted to cast food and alcohol restrictions to the wayside. Unsurprisingly, overindulgence ensued, and March 17th earned itself a bit of a raucous reputation.
Centuries have gone by and the tradition of immoderation on St. Patrick’s Day has stuck. Here in the United States, March 17th has devolved into a national drinking holiday, serving as an excuse to imbibe in excess and embrace Irish heritage for a day, Irish or not.
While there is nothing wrong with shamrock-shaped glasses and keg stands, we at Growler USA think Saint Patrick deserves a celebration that’s a little more dignified and delicious. We’ve got an easy (and mouthwatering) way for you to up your game this Saint Patrick’s Day: gather your fellow lads and lasses for a feast featuring traditional Irish recipes paired with Irish-inspired American craft beers.
Dry Irish Stout + Shepherd’s Pie
It might feel counterintuitive to start off your pairing sequence with such a dark style of brew, but Dry Irish Stouts are surprisingly light and sessionable – and are what Saint Patrick’s Day is traditionally know for. Despite their hue, Irish Stouts have a low alcohol by volume (ABV), usually around 4-6%.
As much as Guinness defines the Dry Irish Stout style, there’s no shortage of American-made Dry Irish Stouts in craft beer’s repertoire. We recommend pairing – or, better yet, pairing and infusing – a traditional shepherd’s pie with Blue Fin Stout from Shipyard Brewing Company or Donnybrook Stout from Victory Brewing Company. The roasted barley in each of these brews complements the hearty vegetable and gravy filling of the shepherd’s pie. Traditional lamb or beef flavors are highlighted by the roasted characteristics of the dry stout style. Dry stouts are typically served from a nitro tap, so you may need to bring one of these brews home in a growler.
No fake green beer from us today. Just a quality Irish dry stout – Donnybrook Stout paired with some Shepherd’s pie! Low alcohol and roasted barley keep it clean and flavorful. The subtle earthiness of European hops harmonize with the roasted barley to offer a whiff of peat. Drink on, folks! 🍻🍀#StPatricksDay
Dry Irish (or Regular) Stout + Bangers and Mash with Stout Onion Gravy
We find Dry Irish Stouts to be in need of extra consideration on St. Paddy’s Day, so we’ve included another suggested pairing that employs this classic Irish style and – surprise! – more gravy. Try Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout with roasted sausage “bangers” and mashed potatoes with stout onion gravy.
If you’re willing to venture away from the “Dry Irish” label in front of “Stout” in the name of an extra touch of sweetness, infuse your caramelized onion gravy with Deschutes Obsidian Stout: a brew with “distinct notes of espresso, chocolate, roasted malt and black barley.” A Dry Irish Stout accentuates the roasty flavors of the sausage in this dish, but a sweeter stout makes the caramelized onions exceptionally palatable.
At only 1,300 years old, The Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Central Oregon. It was the last of a 3-part eruption that originated from a single vent. This knowledge is making us thirsty, so we’re gonna crack open an Obsidian Stout! For more, check out the Lava Lands Visitor Center between Bend and Sunriver, Oregon! . . #obsidianstout #obsidian #obsidianflow #Inbend #sunriver #summer #lava #craftbeer #worthsharing #themoreyouknow
Irish Red Ale + Corned Beef
The Irish may be most famous for their stouts, but the Irish Red Ale deserves equal recognition. This light, slightly sweet brew is balanced and, like the Irish Dry Stout, clocks in at 4-6% ABV on average, making this brew perfect for St. Patrick’s Day-day drinking. CraftBeer.com has a quintessential description of the Irish Red Ale: “With notes of caramel, toffee and sometimes low-level diacetyl (butter), think of this beer style as a cousin to lightly-toasted and buttered bread.”
Sample Boulevard Brewing’s Irish Ale or Flying Dog Brewery’s Lucky SOB Irish Red Ale with corned beef and cabbage. Both brews have a clean finish, serving as a lighter accompaniment to this classic, but somewhat heavy dish. If you’re looking for an extra helping of corned beef, try an Irish Red Ale with a reuben – the ale will balance the pungency of the sauerkraut and horseradish found on this beloved sandwich.
Irish Red Ale + Soda Bread
While Irish soda bread can be enjoyed alongside your meal or stand alone, we advise you to enjoy it at the end of the evening to help soak up any excess alcohol you may have consumed. Pair this simple baked treat with an Irish Red Ale to cap off your pairing experience. The light sweetness and buttered toast quality of the beer complements the bread – resulting in a combination that’s dessert-like, but not too sugary.
If you include raisins or currants in your soda bread, pair it with Karl Strauss’ Red Trolley Ale, an award-winning brew that is “warm-fermented to bring out hints of raisins and currants.” Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red boasts flavors of baked fruit, making it another excellent choice to help wash down this hearty, dense bread.