Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

   I know it's a little early, but I figured it would be best to write before the celebrations begin, rather than during. This Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday, many across North America and Europe will celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. If you don't happen to know much about this Irish holiday, here's a short explanation:

  • Saint Patrick was born Maewyn Succat of England and at the age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish sailors.
  • When Maewyn escaped Ireland and returned to England, he joined the church and took on the name Patrick upon priesthood. 
  • Patrick returned to Ireland to spread Christianity, famously using the shamrock as a visual to explain the Holy Trinity.
  • Patrick died on March 17, and he was later named a Saint and the day was used to honor him.
  • Since the 1600's ,March 17  is celebrated by feast and drink as the Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol are lifted for the day. 
  • The wearing of green and shamrocks originates from the attire worn by Saint Patrick, though he originally wore the color blue. The color green appears to have been derived from the shamrock.
  • Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, though despite popular belief he is not a Patron Saint of beer drinkers or brewers
   Now that you've had a history lesson and learned something, you can go ahead and reward yourself with a cold pint. To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, I would recommend an Irish beer. If you can't find an Irish beer, an Irish-style beer will suffice.

Irish Beers to Consider

(Note: This list contains beers commonly found in the United States)

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is a stout made for export, featuring extra hops and 7.5% abv to preserve the beer. 

Guinness Draught is the original "black stuff", roasty and creamy and weighs in at a low 4.1% abv, which means you can enjoy more of them.

Smithwick's is a Red Ale that tastes much lighter than a Stout and has a strong malt flavor and contains 4.5% abv.

Harp Lager is brewed by Guinness. It has a light flavor like Guinness Black Lager but instead of tasting like roasted malt, it tastes like pale malt. It's the "tan" part of a black and tan, which I would recommend on this Irish holiday.

Tips for a Good Celebration

  1. Plan ahead. It's good to know where you'll be, whether it be a bar or someone's home.
  2. Plan transportation. In the United States, Saint Patrick's Day is filled with heavy drinking. Even if you are sober, you can still get into an accident if someone else drinks and drives. Be safe, and if you're drinking then plan to use public transportation or a designated driver. Knowing before you drink means you won't have to worry about it later.
  3. Stay hydrated. Alcohol deprives your body of water, so it is good to space drinks with a glass of water. It will slow your consumption, which will also slow the effects of alcohol.

   So now that you're all filled in on Saint Patrick's Day, let's raise a pint and toast to Ireland, for today everyone is Irish!

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