St. Patrick’s Pah-ty

Party-Gyle by | Mar 2013 | Issue #74

Remember the feeling in grade school that you weren’t really allowed to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day if you weren’t Irish? Those kids who could claim some ancestry to the island wore green T-shirts provoking folks to kiss them, they’re Irish—and you generally wished you were, too. Now that you’ve grown, you can absolutely get down with the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, and you don’t even have to wear green. It’s a holiday devoted to drinking, as we all know now.

March 17th is smack-dab in the center of a month where not much else goes on. You should have ample time to gear up and gather the gang for a serious drinkathon, or make your own homebrew ahead of time. (Just call it Saint fill-in-your-name, and no, you don’t have to go there and dye it green.) There’s a wealth of Irish brews to get better acquainted with on this holiday, from Amber Ales or “Irish Reds,” to those most quintessential Irish Stouts. You might be surprised how many American craft breweries release their own versions of these styles to coincide with the holiday, too. A few suggestions for good picks to look out for are listed below.

To commemorate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, a proper feast also ensues. We all know the classic meal of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes cooked to death in a big old pot, but there are different twists you can take on it. Try slicing up that corned beef to serve in rolls as sliders, with a spicy mustard and a crisp, cabbage and carrot coleslaw instead of the wet, soggy mess of veg. Potatoes can be made in a multitude of ways, from scalloped to au gratin to roasted chunks with garlic and rosemary. Make a Stout-infused gravy with some extra cooking liquid from the corned beef, or use the broth to boil your potatoes before making a mash. You can set out other traditional, crowd-pleasing Irish dishes like shepherd’s pie, with its pillow of mashed-potato crust, and you can put out a carving board of Irish cheddar and lamb sausages sliced up for the snacking—it’s a heavy meal, but that’s just what you need with lots of beer.

Then, of course, there’s the desserts. Skip the green food coloring and spike your baked goods with Stout instead. The dark, malty effervescence will help leaven any cake, bread or even chocolate bar. Try it out with a few different kinds of Stout to see if any of the expert drinkers can taste the difference. Should you or someone you know own an ice cream maker, now’s the time to bring it out and do it right with a beer-infused flavor. Rocky Road, with a background of Stout ice cream and a hot, fudgy reduction sauce, is a good one to try out.

After all the feasting, you might want to sit back for some entertainment. Encourage friends who can manage a few guitar chords to bring their instruments, and look up some Irish folk music to improvise. At the very least, you can find lyrics to ballads and sing drunkenly along. For a truly folksy—if corny—cultural touch, put on a DVD of Riverdance to play in the background all day. You might just pick up the jig, or something like it, before the end of the night.

American craft “Irish” styles:
Great Lakes Conway’s Irish Ale
Three Floyds Brian Boru Old Irish Red
Goose Island Kilgubbin Red Ale
Harpoon Celtic Ale

Authentic Irish imports:
Beamish Irish Stout
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
Murphy’s Irish Red
Smithwick’s Ale
Porterhouse Oyster Stout
Carlow Brewing’s O’Hara’s Irish Stout