Why St. Patrick’s Day Doesn’t Matter to Beer Geeks

I’ve come to a sad conclusion – St. Patrick’s Day is largely irrelevant for beer geeks.  Years ago (before I knew better about beer) it was a day to wear something green and enjoy a Guinness or a Killian’s Irish Red with some friends.  It was a national beer holiday of sorts, a day where folks who didn’t normally drink beer raised a pint and toasted their status as an honorary Irishman for a day.

But my love for good beer has cast a shadow over this holiday, because I know too much.  I know that there are better beers than Guinness and Killian’s out there (call me a snob if you must).  I know that Guinness isn’t even Irish anymore – they are owned by Diagio.  I know that Bud outsells Guinness in Ireland.  In a nutshell, I know that St. Patrick’s Day is largely a sham – an American holiday propped up by the macrobrewers so they can preserve their annual sales spike. 

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go out and enjoy the holiday, I’m just saying the beer part of it has come to mean absolutely nothing to me.  Actually, it kind of annoys me to think all sorts of non-beer-drinkers will break from the norm and drink “exotic” brews that are the beer equivalent of the Shamrock Shake.  Sure it’s a fun novelty, but there are so many other beverages out there that are so much better.

Sorry to be a downer, but I’ve been waiting for Inspiration to strike and provide a cool idea for a St Patrick’s Day blog post.  As I continued to wait, I realized Inspiration wasn’t going to show, because Inspiration isn’t inspired by the beers of St. Patrick’s Day.  As it turns out, neither am I.




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62 Comments on “Why St. Patrick’s Day Doesn’t Matter to Beer Geeks”

  1. March 10, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I’m still a fan of the “holiday”. I still really enjoy a black and tan, I don’t care who owns Guinness anymore.

    I think stuff like this is what you make it and I can make things awesome!

    Also love the Irish Car Bombs (sorry if you’re one of the Irish brethren who’s offended by the term) and Jameson in general. What’s not to celebrate?

    Go whoop it up with your friends at the local pub or cook up yourself some cabbage and corned beef for dinner and then get yourself a copy of Boondock Saints and your drink of choice and have a good night at home.

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      As I said, enjoy yourself. For me, St. patty’s Day was always about the beer, and now I think the beer is kinda crappy, therefore the holiday is too.

      But that’s me – I know lots of folks love the 17th and I say more power to you.

  2. ray larkin
    March 10, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Speaking for myself, I believe the holiday has gotten better for me. I come from a little town where it’s always been celebrated with Irish themed parties, parades, road races and of course crappy green beer. I leave most of these things for the uninformed, but I do take advantage of a new “event” that appears to be taking hold in Michigan, Many of the Brew-pubs start St. Patricks Day with special beers and free breakfast, corn beef and cabbage and othe Irish themed eats all day, a hell of a good time, whether your Irish or not. So, buck up, dear blogger, perhaps this wave of St. Paddy’s fun is headed your way soon!

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:39 am #

      That’d be great, Ray. I’d love to spend the day at New Glarus eating Irish food and drinking good beer. Unfortunately I live in New Jersey. 😦

  3. Don
    March 10, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Yeah, Jim, you’re not trying very hard. Cabbage and Corned Beef, Sheppard’s Pie, Irish Stew, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Etc. Just unclench your Sphincter a bit and have some fun.

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:40 am #

      Whatever, Don. I’m just not a huge fan of boiled meats and watery beer.

      • March 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

        Have you tried the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout? Definitely a non-watery option.

        • Don
          March 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

          No Mikey, you don’t understand, Jim would rather have Whine and Cheese for St. Patrick’s Day rather than find a good Irish beer.

        • March 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

          That was actually the first Guinness I ever had – It was all down hill from there! Good stuff for sure, but not as good as a Southern Tier Oat. And yes, I know I’m missing the point completely.

  4. March 10, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    What’s funny is that all of the stuff you just listed is stuff that’s sort of irritated me about this holiday for years. When I saw the headline, I had a pretty good idea where you were headed with it, and grinned. And since I have maybe .000002% Irish in my family tree, I’d feel kinda stupid making a big deal about the holiday. I’ll get back to you on Bastille Day, though.

    A possible alternative: the Ides of March are coming up two days before St. Pat’s. Celebrate that instead. Just don’t stab your friends 23 times in the back as part of the celebration.

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      I was in Dusseldorf this past weekend during Carnivale. Everybody was dressed in costumes and cheek-kissing and drinking. I thought screw St. Patty’s Day – THIS is a party!!

  5. March 10, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    My suggestion for you is to travel to Ireland to drink some of their great craft beer…

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      I’m in!! 🙂

  6. March 10, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    By the way, where are your numbers for this “I know that Bud outsells Guinness in Ireland”?

    I think Guinness is something like 30% of the market in Ireland

    • March 10, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Bud has 30% and Guinness now has 23% of the market in Ireland according to stats I saw this morning. It was a bit of a shocker.

      • March 10, 2011 at 11:48 am #

        Sorry – didn’t answer your question. I saw the stats in an article I read this morning, but can no longer find the link. But I stand behind the stat FWIW.

    • March 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Yup – that’s the one. I knew it was the Street, but I couldn’t find that article. Good work.

      • March 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

        The article says that Bud + Heineken is 30%… not just Bud…

        And by the way, Guinness has not been Irish since 1886.

        • March 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

          There goes that Pulitzer…

      • Alex
        March 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

        The article isn’t very clear. I also think they may be using Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch/InBev interchangeably. That’s a lot of different (albeit generally crappy) brands included under that umbrella.

        • March 10, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

          Yeah – it’s their fault, not mine!!

          Looks like that Pulitzer (or maybe a Grammy) is headed my way after all!

  7. johnking82
    March 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    I hope this doesn’t happen to me when I get old.

    Yes, St. Patricks Day is sponsored by Bud and Miller with their green beers and shamrock covered bans and bottles, but aren’t all holidays, events, and most other larger events sponsored by these same macrobreweries. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to. I don’t make a conscious effort to not go to a baseball game because they only sell Budweiser and Old Style, I go there for the tradition. Like this St. Patricks Day, I will go with the tradition of drinking way to many beers in honor of my Irish Heritage (I also brewed a beer for St. Pattys, McKinleys Bloodline, an Imperial Red Ale). Should we not watch the Superbowl because of the Budweiser ads promoting their swill?

    My opinion, if St. Patricks Day is going to get a few people to go out on a limb and try a Guinness, that’s just another step away from Macrobrewing in an attempt lead them towards the craft beer path. Come to the Dark Side.

    • March 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      You kids get off my damn lawn!!!

  8. March 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    I used to love St. Paddy’s day for all the same reasons. Also, I was in my early 20’s and it was all about drinking and being loud and drunk. Now I am old and curmudgeonly, and I prefer better beer, and not as much drunken amateurism. I still like parts of the holiday, particularily the music, but I can cook up a better stout-infused shepherds pie at home than any restaurant here, and drink an excellent selection of beers and listen to my Seven Nations and Flogging Molly and Clancy Brothers at home…

    • March 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      Thank god – another old beer snob fogey who understands!!

  9. March 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    No biggie… a Pulitzer is just this side of a Grammy.

    I do encourage you to get to Ireland and try some of their craft beers… you will never touch Guinness again.

    • March 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Trust me, wherever I go I dig into the craft scene whenever possible. I’m sure Ireland makes some amazing brews. Having a Guinness here is probably like going to TGI Friday’s in Rome and saying all American food is awful.

  10. March 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Jimmy O’Beersnobbigan!

    As a partial Irishman (through marriage), I have to say that I have some fondness for the holiday. Spent a St. Patty’s Day in Newport, RI several years ago and really enjoyed their festivities. Nice parade, some decent pubs with some tasty Irish food (bangers, beans and mash for me), and some well poured Guinness and Irish whisky. It was a grand time! And as far as Guinness goes, while there are better stouts and porters out there (Edmund Fitzgerald Porter for one), I really do enjoy The Blacksmith (half Guinness and half Smithwicks), and I will occasionally enjoy the Guinness by itself. I first had it when I was 16 at a place called Downey’s in Philly, and loved it at first sip. It’s like an old friend. 🙂

    Slainte Mhath!

    • March 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

      I have to say, as a guy with the last name Galligan, I am a supreme bummer when it comes to St. Patty’s Day!

      • Don
        March 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

        Which, quite frankly is just wrong, and I think that is what everyone here is trying to tell you. You need to go to an Irish Pub and listen to the music, have a great meal and drink a few pints of whatever Irish brew makes it into a glass. For a guy that likes Coors Light and Horseshoes and Summer Shandy, you are awful persnickety about this particular holiday.

        • March 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

          Bah humbug!! Well, wrong holiday, but right expression!

  11. March 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Good points Jim, and true, however I think Cinco de Mayo is the ultimate sham holiday and even worse for beer geeks!

    Anyway, here’s a cool post by a real Irish guy talking about Irish beer and what has happened to it over the years. (Not good) Its a good read, although its posted on a very crappy website.


    • March 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      Good article, Scott. And the site isn’t half-bad either.

      Now only if someone would tell the ladies what to drink on St. Patty’s Day. Oh wait: http://thebrewclub.com/2011/03/08/quoted-in-womans-world-magazine/

      • March 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

        LOL! Thanks, Jim!

        • Don
          March 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

          Of course, Scott he did bury it in the comments.

    • Alex
      March 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      Cool article! It’s sad to see how far some of the traditional beer producing countries have fallen in recent years, but encouraging to read about their own emerging craft beer scenes.

      Scotland’s BrewDog has waged a few political battles to get their high ABV beers into the UK marketplace and has even encountered resistance from CAMRA, who you’d think would be on their side. Crazy.

  12. johnking82
    March 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Summer Shandy? Does buttercup like the crust cut off his peanut butter and jelly too.

    Horseshoes is a mans game though.

  13. Rachel
    March 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I’m happy to celebrate the likelihood that I will find some of Victory’s Donnybrook Stout this St. Patrick’s Day.

    • March 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      That’d be great. Ive only ever seen it at the brewery, so that’d be a St. Patty’s Day miracle in these parts.

  14. March 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I’m German, and so I enjoy the holiday with a reuben sandwich made with corned beef and sauerkraut. The wife of one of my brewing buddies lived in Ireland for a while as a kid, and so the holiday is celebrated at their place with food and drink. The drink, is typically homebrewed stouts that make Guinness look like crap.

    • March 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Guess the fact that I don’t have any real traditions around this holiday makes it less fun. Perhaps we’ll have to create some this year, ones that involve Bourbon and Imperial Stouts. A Redneck Russian St. Patty’s?

      • Big Tex
        March 11, 2011 at 12:03 am #

        One could even start wearing orange.

        • March 11, 2011 at 11:13 am #

          Hunter’s orange with camo pants sounds just about right, Tex.

  15. March 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I’m Irish through marriage – I use St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to see family and as I have found out from my husband’s family – stand on the corner of street and hurl insults at the other two Irish families thath dominate the tiny town the Indiana Mullins clan hails from during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the weekend before March 17th).

    In Indianapolis, many of the breweries have started brewing a craft beer to celebrate the occasion and one of them will be serving at their sister restaurant’s tent party.

    I’ll be celebrating with all of my extended family at The Rathskeller – oddly German, but they throw a great party, and kids are invited. Yay for Spaten Optimator in liters. They do offer liter Irish Car Bombs as well – I did it once and got into a Real Housewives of New Jersey style fight with some girl.

    Lucky for me, Spaten Optimator looks enough like Guinness no one will question me.

    So seriously Jim, stop being a baby.

    • March 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Ha ha. Sounds like your St. Patrick’s Day is a lot cooler than mine, Tamre. Catfights and verbal abuse? Sign me up!!

  16. Matt
    March 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    A real beer geek (ohhhh, fighting words!) would go out with his BMC drinking buddies, order a single black & tan to keep with the theme then switch to IPA for the rest of the night. That’s what I did last year. This post sounds like Beerdouchicus speak and you’re better than that, Jim. 🙂

    • March 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      Totally beerdouchicus!!

      I’m aware that I’m being a snob about St. Patty’s beer, but I mostly did the post because it struck me just how not enthused I am about the holiday in general. I’m actually surprised that this is the case – St. Patty’s Day used to be a fun party day, but now it ranks up there with Administrative Assistant’s Day for holidays that I don’t care about.

      And for the record (and to solidify my beerdouchicus status today), I don’t have any BMC friends! 😉

      • Don
        March 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

        No you have BMC Family…

        • March 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

          By BMC, do you mean Big Mouthy C…uh…nevermind.

      • johnking82
        March 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

        maybe cus this year it’s on a Thursday…Fri. and Sat. St. Pattys would get you in the spirit.

        • March 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

          Naw, I can drink on Thursday just fine!

    March 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    What about breweries like Moylan’s? Left Hand in Colorado has a milk stout on Nitro that is out of this world!!! There’s a few great beers out there for us beer geeks, we just need to be a bit more creative when it comes to holiday’s like this. I work for a craft beer distributor and I have promos all over for Left Hand’s Milk Stout…it’s a personal mission to start redefining these “holidays” and making it more craft beer friendly. If we give up then the Macros win and I’m not even going to entertain that thought.

    • March 11, 2011 at 11:10 am #

      I appreciate getting your average beer drinker to upgrade on St. Patty’s Day, but Left Hand Milk Stout is a delicious option any day of the year for beer geeks.

      Maybe I gotta get into boiled food so I can “look forward” to that. 😦

        March 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

        I don’t look forward to boiled food…I do love a good Shepard’s Pie.

        Milk Stout IS good any day but my point is making an experience like St. Paddy’s something Beer Geeks can enjoy…even if it is at home in a quiet and adult fashion 🙂

  18. March 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    I happened upon your Twitter post and had to read the article. I would pretty much agree with you. St. Patricks day is actually a religious holiday, and being Irish (but not religious) I have a hard time going out and getting wasted with everyone else on this day. It doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do.
    I do have to disagree with you on the count of Guinness. Having been to Ireland, I will admit to two things. The Guinness tastes completely different there than it does here, and the Irish drink a lot of Bud Light and Coors Light, which is really freaking disappointing. With a great beer like Guinness there, they drink watery beer from the US. Crazy.
    Cheers to ya and enjoy St. Pats however you choose to.

    • March 11, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      Happy st. Pat’s to you as well, Nate. I bet the Guinness is better there – I always hear they export the crap and keep the good stuff for themselves. Can’t say as I blame them – I’d do the same!

  19. The Wookie
    March 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Testify Brother Jim (and pay no attention to my Sicilian friend G-lo). As a Scot/Irishman St. Patty’s is just a day where the non Irish and the Big Beer Companies hijack my favorite bar and indulge the delusion that Bud Light dyed green is an authentic emerald isle brew.

    • March 11, 2011 at 11:12 am #

      You’re exactly right. Perhaps we should start Irish Curmudgeons Day, where we sit in a dark pub and complain about people w ho don’t have Irish last names.

      Oh wait, that’s like every day in Boston.

        March 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

        I feel that way about Valentine’s Day…since I work for a craft beer distributor I say thank goodness Valentine’s Day isn’t a “drinking holiday” and I don’t have to do promos that day.

        • Don
          March 14, 2011 at 9:18 am #

          Everyone disses on Valentines day.


  1. Happy St. Patty’s Day: Beware of Amateurs! « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - March 17, 2011

    […] St. Patrick’s Day! As a beer geek I have struggled to find meaning in the holiday this year, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to hit your favorite pub and have a […]

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