Homer Simpson does have a knack for words, doesn't he. But in honor of St Patrick's Day, we thought it fitting to test out some of our favorite Irish beers and ciders. Of course, store availability being what it is, we weren't able to secure two faves - Murphy's Irish Stout and Magner's Hard Cider. But somehow we muddled through. Here's our take on the lovely beverage that needs no introduction...
Guinness Foreign Extra A bit too bitter in my opinion, it does resemble the original in color and infamous head, but this one was too strong for me. And since the alcohol by volume was over 7%, it's no wonder.
Woodchuck Hard Cider I know, not Irish, but as I said, I couldn't find Magner's. This one's a good substitute though more sweet than Magner's and therefore you can't have too many without feeling like you OD'd on sugar. But it's crisp, sweet and very drinkable.
Guinness The one and only. Frothy, rich and just a hint of bitterness. This beer is a meal in itself. And I have a vague memory of a St. Patrick's Day about 15 years ago where I may have had many 'meals' in celebration. Ah, youth and stupidity. J
Liz: Mix it up!
Can't pick just one beer to indulge in on this holiday? No need to! The traditional Black & Tan is the combination of Smithwick's (an Irish red ale style beer from Kilkenny) and Guinness (an Irish dry stout originated in Dublin - you know, the one Danielle used to drink as a meal...). Pouring the perfect beer this way is tricky, and involves a certain level of skill. The Guinness always is poured on top of the other beer, in this case the Smithwick's. Despite its dark color, it's not a very dense beer. Pro tip: use a spoon to pour the Guinness on top so it stays separated.
The staple in this drink is the Guinness, and there are actually many variations of the drink, my favorite being the Black & Blue. This is Blue Moon beer topped with Guinness. The pouring technique is the same (check out this helpful video to show you how), but I really like the citrus flavor of the wheat beer mixed with the rich Guinness in comparison to the hoppier, more bitter taste of Smithwick's. Try them both and you decide!
Shana: I spent a semester abroad in Ireland a couple of years ago and with little-to-no knowledge of beer, I often ordered Magner's Hard Cider while I was there. I've grown very fond of ciders and since then Magner's has been one of my favorite drinks, so it's no surprise that Woodchuck Hard Cider was definitely my favorite out of the three we tasted. Yes, it's a bit sweet, but easy to drink and very refreshing. I'd stay away from ciders though, if sweet drinks aren't really your thing.
I've grown to like Guinness as well, but when I first tasted it in Ireland, I was not a fan. Gradually I started to crave the dark, bitter stout and I would say it's an acquired taste (for me at least). It's best to drink Guinness in the fall and winter, one too many will warm you right up.
If you're feeling a little risky, try an Irish car bomb with Guinness, Bailey's, and Jameson to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Brian: So, as the lone Celt among the group I felt obliged to give a bit of a back-story to our old friend, beer, before I dive into my review and bubbly assertions.
To put it simply, beer has quite the history. It's claimed to be one of the world's oldest prepared beverages, with roots that go as deep as the early Neolithic Period around 9,500 B.C. Egypt and the Middle East region of the world, as well as China and Celtic tribes, all had early variations of this fermented concoction. Back then, however, the ingredients list was far more expansive, with regions producing beer-like beverages from rice, fruit, honey and herbs. And though beer proper has come a long way since these early days, their contribution to the developing palette of their respective cultures and the conversations that drive civilization seems no less significant.
Well, with a last name like Slattery, certain assumptions are often made about my knowledge of and love for beer. Actually, though, beer remains one of the beverages that I typically drink the least. That said, I do have a small circle of go-to favorites that whet the whistle quite well. Guinness, Murphy's Irish Stout, Beamish and Boddington's are just a few that I recommend reaching for in the store - that is if you're looking for a slightly more solid, bold flavor, light effervescence and a beer that harkens to the craftsmen and history steeped into every bottle.
So, while I may not drink much of it, the Irish assumption certainly seems valid in my selection of winners. This St. Patrick's Day, as well, I found a special variant of Guinness that I'm excited to try: Guinness Foreign Extra. It's apparently got the familiar flavor of Guinness but with a bit more hops used in the recipe that yields a more robust 7.5% alcohol content. Certainly a sipping beer!
What brew has you talking as we head into St. Patrick's Day?