Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

14 03 2010

Wednesday is the Feast Day of St. Patrick, one of the Patron Saints of Ireland in the Roman Catholic Church. Having been to Dublin on St. Patrick’s day, I can say that Americans celebrate it very different from the Irish do. St. Patrick’s day is a religious holiday mixed with national and cultural pride. It is very much like Thanksgiving in the United States. Due to that fact, many Irish celebrate it by going to church and praying and being with family and friends rather than going out and drinking green beer and making fools of themselves. It was amazing to be in Dublin for St. Patrick’s and finding the usually convivial and congenial Irish suddenly angry and resentful of my presence. I guess I would too if every year thousands of foreigners descended upon my city for Thanksgiving for the sheer purpose of getting sloppy drunk.

If anything, I believe American’s attitude toward St. Patrick’s Day is evidence of our ability to first villianize and oppress another culture and then “celebrate” our ignorant stereotypes and prejudices with a bastardized version of their holidays.

But St. Patrick’s day is a big beer drinking day in the United States. And this a beer blog written in the United States. So I would be remiss not to mention it. But as we here at The Thinking Person’s Beer attempt to improve and enhance the rhetoric around beer drinking, we are going instead focus on cooking and pairing food with Irish beer.

Photo Credit: Wickenden CC

Corned beef is a staple at many St. Patrick’s Day dinners. The dish begins with a beef brisket which then brined in salt and then boiled or broiled. It becomes tender, juicy and salty. It is served with baked fingerling potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage. I would like to pair my corned beef with Harp Lager from The Great Northern Brewery. Light, crisp and slightly spicy hops and generous carbonation, harp will scrub your palate clean between bites, setting you up for another. I could also pair corned beef with O’Hara’s irish Red. The malt of O’Hara’s Red has a slightly salty sweetness reminiscent of a seabreeze. This would pair wonderfully as it would play off of the salt in the beef.

Photo Credit: Sarah McD CC

Another great Irish dish is Beef and Guinness Pie. More like a stew than a pie, the beef is slowly cooked with carrots, potatoes and onions in Guinness stout and then served in a Yorkshire pudding. This is wonderful on a cool, drizzly spring evening. Instead of Guinness Draught, I would use the Extra Stout. The Extra Stout has more malt sugar to caramelize. It also has a smokier roast which would give your stew a deeper, warmer, earthier quality. Serve with a pint of Guinness Extra Stout–slightly chilled.

Fish and Chips are a staple in Ireland. It was often the go-to dinner when I lived there. Begin with a light, white fish like cod, halibut or tilapia. I would recommend making a beer batter with Smithwicks Ale. The malt is sweeter and will caramelize nicely to play off the lightness of the fish. It will also be accentuated by the malt vinegar. Save yourself the time and get frozen fries instead of making your own. And forget the tarter sauce. Serve with a pint of Smithwicks.

Photo Credit: @joefoodie CC

For dessert, try a stout float. Avoid the obvious and stay away from Guinness Draught which is too dry and smokey in my opinion. Instead, try Murphy’s Irish Stout which is creamier and more chocolaty. Pour about 3/4 of a pint and then add a generous scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream and enjoy!

That should do it. English and Irish food both have a reputation for being bland. But by focusing on fresh ingredients and pairing well with a good beer, your food can be flavorful and delicious.

The Thinking Person’s Beer wishes you a very happy and safe holiday and Slainte!

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