Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day... Green Bagels and Beer

In an ode to my Irish heritage, my grandfather would be oh so proud, I am toasting to all of you the Luck of the Irish and a very Happy St. Patrick's Day, with Green Bagels and Irish Beer.

A Guide to Irish Beers
(via Epicurious)
"Joe's Bar down the street may be serving green lager this St. Patrick's Day, but in Ireland the color of beer year-round is black—as in dry, roasty stout, the Blessed Trinity being Guinness, Murphy's, and Beamish."

Guinness Pub Draught
It might look intimidating, but this famed stout is fairly light in body, dry, and roasty. It finishes with a hint of burnt toast.

Beamish Irish Stout
Fairly full-bodied, this stout has a roasty character with a pleasing hint of smoke and gentle coffee notes.

Murphy's Irish Stout
The softest of Ireland's Big Three, this is a malty, softly chocolaty ale, without the appetizing dryness of Guinness or Beamish.

The Latest and Greatest
O'Hara's Irish Stout
Some chocolate sweetness up front is followed by a firmly malted yet dry and roasted character, then an appetizingly bitter and faintly tart finish.

The pitch-black color and complex, roasted, almost wine like aroma are the first hints that O'Hara's is bigger and bolder than most of the competition. It's dry enough for oysters, but sufficiently robust to be enjoyed with meat and cheese dishes.

Red Ale
Smithwick's Irish Ale
Lightly sweet and butterscotch on the nose, medium-bodied, and gently fruity, with a drying note of bitterness on the finish.

The color of Irish beer is not a uniform black; there's a parallel, though much less celebrated, tradition of Irish red ales, as well. Probably the best known globally is Smithwick's—pronounced "Smid-ick's"—a toasty, faintly caramel-like ale from the folks who brew Guinness, and a relatively recent arrival in the United States.

Pairing Beer and Food
Traditional Irish cuisine is rustic and especially delicious when you use quality ingredients and the right ales to complement the hearty dishes. Some of the best salmon in the world is fished off the Irish coast and gently smoked in the south. As an appetizer, it partners beautifully with a glass of cool, though not cold, dry Irish stout.

Traditional potato-based side dishes like cabbage-rich colcannon provide a fine excuse to break out a bottle or two of gently sweet, caramelly Irish red ale, especially if served alongside a roast leg of lamb.

A hearty Irish stew would benefit from the popular half-and-half mixture of ale and stout known as Black & Tan.

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