The Official Beer of St. Patrick's Day has always seemed to be Guinness Draught Irish Dry Stout. Well we wanted to see if we could find a better beer for this holiday's festivities. Obviously, it needs to be a stout. You must be able to drink it all day without getting too intoxicated or too full. After all, nobody likes the drunk kid and you don't want to be too full to eat the corned beef and cabbage dinner (at least you don't want to be too full to eat it at our party, it's delicious). Given this criteria, we're about to answer the question: Is Guinness the Best St. Patrick's Day Beer? We'll start with the benchmark:
Smell: Aroma is unsweetened chocolate and roast. You can pick up a bit of sourness, which is what gives Guinness its distinct smell and taste.
Taste: Light and thin, perfect for drinking all day. That sourness we smelled? It gives the beer a nice twang right at the end, which keeps it from being a thing and smooth tasting bore. Despite what people may tell you, this beer is not "thick" or "a meal in a glass." It's also not strong. It's in the low 4%abv range and definitely won't fill you up. This is a good beer if you're going to be drinking all St. Patrick's Day but don't want to be wasted or full.
Haven't you ever wondered why Guinness is on top in Black & Tans? It's because the Guinness is lighter than the other beer!
Number we could drink on St. Patrick's Day: We haven't found a top end to this number, yet. So, we're going to say "a whole bunch."
North Coast Brewing Company Old Plowshare Organic Stout
Appearance: Get ready... it's light brown to black. Although it does have a little garnet red around the edges. The head is big, pillowy, light brown and just won't quit. Seems like we could stack it inches above the glass! The head is actually scoopable.
Smell: It smells like a bag of roasted barley. We're getting really bitter chocolate and roast notes.
Taste: This is a good beer. If we wanted an Imperial Russian Stout without the alcohol, we'd have this. It's big, it's in your face and its got massive flavor. Also, it's 5.7%abv, which is very strong for this style. Roasted chocolate and cocoa dominate this beer. We like it, but not if you're drinking all day.
Number we could drink on St. Patrick's Day: 1
Avery Out of Bounds Stout
Appearance: Black... there is no "dark brown" about this one! Head is still a tawny brown, and it's staying for a while. Not as much head as the North Coast, but more than the Guinness.
Smell: This has a really mild smell. We pick out a little chocolate and a little of the lactic sourness from Guinness. A little sweet smelling even.
Taste: Oooh, this is good! Chocolaty and a bit sweet. A little thick for all-day drinking. This beer has a big flavor so, again, probably not the best for sessioning all day. We like this one, but nothing has unseated Guinness yet. Avery says this brew is an "extreme experience." That's great if you're having one or two. If you're drinking for the day, I'd stay away from extreme. Maybe have one to start.
Number we could drink on St. Patricks Day: 2
Murphy's Draft Style Irish Stout
Appearance: Black, fading to garnet. Off-white head. We all know what this looks like now, nothing out of the ordinary.
Smell: Super mild and smooth smelling. You really have to try to get any smells out of this.
Taste: Really, really smooth and creamy! A little sweet, with a nice twang of sourness at the end... but less than Guinness. This is a really smooth drinking beer that is easy to drink. We could drink quite a few of these.
Number we could drink on St. Patricks Day: A whole bunch... pretty much the same as Guinness.
O'Hara's Celebration Stout
Appearance: First thing we noticed is this has the darkest head of any of the beers we've had so far. The head has large fluffy bubbles, very unique. It fades, but sticks around This is a much darker than normal beer for this style. About what we'd expect from an Anniversary brew.
Smell: It smells like chocolate with a hint of smoke and a little sweetness.
Taste: WOW! That's a good stout! Smokey chocolate dominates and the sweetness rounds it out nicely. We know it's not, but it's almost a little oaky with some tannins. It's not a session beer, though... especially at 6%abv. This is a great beer to split a 750ml bottle of, but not one to drink all day. Plus, it's $9 per bottle. This would be a great one to start the day off with, though. We're thinking a St. Patrick's Day Beer Toast! You could split this 5 ways easily and everybody would be ready for the session beer afterwards.
Number we could drink on St. Patricks Day: Since this is a 750 ml bottle, we're going to say half a bottle... maybe a full bottle.
Moylan's Dragoons Dry Irish Stout
Appearance: Big head with big bubbles, medium brown colored. Black body with just barely a hint of brick red around the edges.
Smell: Up front is some chocolate. We get a bit of creamy roastiness going on in the middle. Lastly, we're picking up some of that bit of funk expected from this style.
Taste: "Oh, that's delicious!" Devon immediately said. And I'd have to agree. This is one smooth beer! Semi-sweet chocolate dominates, with just a hint of roastiness at the very end to make it a little tangy. Smooth and light all at the same time, this is a real session stout! The only problem is the carbonation. This is a delicious beer, and probably tastes the best of all that we've tried. But we couldn't drink this endlessly.
Number we could drink on St. Patricks Day: Easily a bomber. The only problem is the carbonation. If this was on nitrogen (meaning a lot less carbonated), it would be at the top.
North Coast Old No. 38 Stout
Appearance: Light brown and a good bit of garnet red shows through. A good size craggy head, though.
Smell: This is probably the sweetest smelling beer we've had. Quite chocolaty smelling, as well, but a sweet chocolate. Smells like a milk stout.
Taste: This is not very dry for a dry stout. In fact, it's pretty sweet. It's a tasty stout, but not an Irish Dry Stout. This needs to be fermented out more, or needs some more roastiness to make it taste less sweet. It's a good stout, but not to style at all. We don't think we could drink too many of these on St. Patrick's Day just because we wouldn't have room for the Corned Beef and Cabbage later on. The sweetness is filling! Don't get us wrong, it's quite tasty. Take St. Patrick's Day out of the equation and this beer would be really good. It's just not a session beer for St. Patrick's Day.
Number we could drink on St. Patricks Day: 1
So the conclusion? Guinness wins out for us at the end of the day. But we hold a special place in our hearts, stomach and liver for Murphy's and Ohara's 10th.