I’M NOT sure when or why the people in the United States decided to celebrate the death of Ireland’s patron saint with heavy drinking and parades.
Whatever the reason, it’s that time of year again. The green beer will be flowing as freely as the green water in Savannah’s fountains.
There may actually be a reason to connect St. Patrick with beer, but that doesn’t mean he would be too happy about the way we celebrate in his name. St. Patrick did use beer as a means to spread Christianity.
It is thought that as St. Patrick seeded monasteries throughout Ireland, he would use beer as a way to insure the stability of those monasteries. Patrick would send his “head brewer,” a priest by the name of Mescan, to set up the beer production facilities at each of the monasteries.
Beer production also provided a safe drink for the monks and a source of income for the monastery.
In the years between Patrick’s 5th century activities and the 1700’s, Ireland’s breweries flourished to include over 200 breweries. That number dropped to 12 over the next 300 years, mostly due to the dominance of Guinness, a favorite St. Patrick’s Day drink.
According to the brewery, around 7.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, twice their normal daily consumption. Fortunately Ireland is seeing resurgence in beer growth, influenced largely by the US craft beer movement.
Guinness is good, but Brew/Drink/Run loves to support local, which is a little hard around St. Patrick’s Day.
Most local breweries just hunker down and do their best to keep from running out of beer. But one local brewery did brew up something special to mark Savannah’s biggest holiday.
Coastal Empire paired up with local eatery and craft beer hotspot Crystal Beer Parlor for an Irish inspired beer. Chris Haborak, co-founder for Coastal Empire, tells Brew/Drink/Run that “some team members (from Crystal) came over about three weeks ago and brewed with us on our pilot system.”
This 5.2% ABV Irish red has a fun name, Coastal Celtic Crystal Parlor Original, shortened to c3po. C3po will be released on March 16 at the brewery and will remain on until it kicks. Irish reds are pale ales brewed with a little roasted barley to get the distinctive red tone to the beer.
While there is some debate as to whether Irish Red Ale is a style on its own or just a variation on an English Bitter, there is no doubt that it will be tasty.
Coastal, like the other local breweries, will be closed Friday for the festivities so be sure to drop in the night before to insure you have a taste of the c3po.
C3po is worth hunting down, but there is another seasonal out there also worth seeking out. Moon River Brewing has their version of a Irish style dry stout dubbed The Bomb!.
Dry Irish stouts, like Guinness, are brewed with un-malted barley. The malting process gives barley a sweeter taste; un-malted barley does not have that sweetness and is “dryer.”
This style came about when importing malted barley into Ireland to make the Irish’s sweet stouts was taxed. Un-malted barley was not taxed but changed the beer dramatically and created an entirely new style.
Seek out these local beers and remember green beer is not a thing you should be drinking, just don’t do it. There are so many better drinking options out there on St. Patrick’s Day.
Give c3po and the Bomb! A try and support the local guys at the same time.