Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

             On this day, all things Irish, or what is thought to be all things Irish are celebrated.  What was once a religious holiday for Catholics in Ireland, St. Patrick ’s Day for many is an excuse to party and drink excessively.  But what is truly Irish?  It is stereotypical to say that drinking is Irish culture, it is like saying maple syrup is Canadian cuisine.  There is so much more to it.  That said, Ireland is known for producing some of the best beer and whisky in the world, so for today’s post, I am discussing some of Ireland’s famous beers.

I went to the liquor store to get my favorite Guinness, but instead found this little gem, the Irish Beer Discovery Pack, which features the following Irish beer from the makers of Guinness; Guinness Draught, Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Draught and Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale.  I decided to taste test each beer in the pack and give a little description of each.

What are the differences between ale, and lager anyways, isn’t it just “beer”?  Well, yes but in the same way that wine is just “wine”.  According to, the differences between ale and lager rests in three main factors:  yeast (ales being a top fermenting beer, and lagers bottom fermenting) Temperature and time (ales ferment best at higher temperatures, and faster, while lagers ferment at colder temperatures and longer times) and Additional ingredients (ales often have more hops, malts and roasted malts, thus has a more malty flavor and bitterness)

Now on to the tasting.  First up, I tried the Harp lager. It’s a light tasting beer, light golden amber color with a nice head.  It is light and crisp and is a nice beginner beer to start out the evening.  At 5% alcohol, it gives a nice little buzz. 

Second up is the Kilkenny, a nitrogenated Irish cream ale, from Kilkenny, Ireland.   A darker beer, it has an interesting creamy head.  We observed quickly after it was poured that the foam underneath the head was moving up and down as it was settling.   At 4.3% alcohol and slightly less volume than the Harp, it still packs a punch.  Being an ale, Kilkenny has more of a malty taste and a rich bitter caramel aftertaste.

Next up is Smithwick’s Draught, premium Irish Ale.  Also from Kilkenny, Smithwick’s claim to fame is as Ireland’s oldest ale.  Smithwick’s Draught was first brewed in 1710 by John  Smithwick at the St. Francis Abbey Brewery, Ireland’s oldest operating brewery.  A clear beer with a ruby red finish, Smithwick’s is similar in taste to Kilkenny, but slightly less bold. 

Last but not least, is Guinness Draught.  Arguably is the #1 stout in the world as an enduring symbol of Irish pride.  This popular beer from Dublin, Ireland, owes much of its success to its unique style and award-winning advertising campaigns.

Some would say that Guinness is an acquired taste. I starts with a foamy thick head and a dark molasses colored body. Even though there is a common misconception that Guinness is black in color, if you held it up to the light it actually has a dark ruby red color. I found the flavor to be quite bold, malty, and strong like coffee. So it will pair nicely with strong foods, perfect if you're a carnivore. 

Taking another cold sip, it's going down very thick and frothy. One could make a meal from drinking this "black stuff". It certainly feels more filling than the average beer. So curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the the calorie count. To my surprise, a 12 oz full bodied frosted glass of Guinness Draught(126 cal.) has fewer calories than the same amount of Tropicana, Pure Premium extra pulp orange juice(165 cal.) or a tall glass of 2% milk(183 cal.) packed with all it's calcium goodness. It even contains less calories than it's popular competitors including the likes of Coors at 148 calories, Budwweiser at 143 calories,and Molson Canadian with 144 calories just to name a few. This new found knowledge lead me to think, " all Guinness liquid diet!" I dunno if my vital internal organs would agree to that one.

 Let's all raise a glass with a unified global toast of Irish love and pride!


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