What’s Brewing? 5 Irish beers to sample | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

What’s Brewing? 5 Irish beers to sample

Mark Brewer
Mark Brewer
Toast to St. Patrick with an Irish ale.
Wikimedia Commons
Kilkenny Irish Beer

St. Patrick’s Day began on March 17, 461, marking the anniversary of the passing of the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday was to commemorate St. Patrick’s great life and his many contributions to the world including the monasteries, churches and schools he had established.

It was a way not to forget the legendary tale of how St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and how he used the shape of the shamrock to explain the Trinity. It was a day of feasting. Today it has become a day of drinking.

Irish immigrants transformed the unofficial holiday into a secular holiday. A day of revelry and celebration of all things Irish, including beer. Christians are allowed to put aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption for this one day, which is why excessive drinking has become so permanently linked to St. Patrick’s Day.

Pittsburgh is rated one of the best cities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. And as Pennsylvania produces more beer than any other in our country, you can bet the taps at craft breweries will be flowing this Sunday.

Whether you choose to drink local Irish-American beer or something imported from the Emerald Isle itself, there are plenty to choose. Here’s a primer to help with your selection:

Cream ales

For those of you who enjoy lighter beers, consider an Irish cream ale. These are notoriously easy to drink and have low hop bitterness. Ireland’s original cream ale is Kilkenny, which you can find at your local distributor after you try a cream ale at one at your local breweries first. Hop Farm on Butler Street in Lawrenceville has a coffee cream ale you’ll enjoy.


Harp lager is another Irish option from Ireland. As one would expect from a lager, it has a clean and refreshing taste with only a slightly malty finish.

Irish Red Ales

Irish red ales are known for their distinct red color, slightly sweet taste and light hop bitterness. Try a Red Paddy Irish Ale from Lavery Brewing Co. You can find this beer in a cask and many more Irish favorites on tap at Piper’s Pub on the South Side of Pittsburgh.


Porters are indeed Irish and happen to be the father of all stouts. They tend to be a bit sweeter than stouts and have a dark brown opaque color. They can be creamy, nutty and have hop bitterness with notes of chocolate too. Prohibition Pauly from Fat Head’s is a good one if you can find it.


Irish dry stouts are without a doubt the most iconic Irish beer. They’re almost black in color and are known for their creamy mouthfeel and dry-roasted character. Many have a distinct creamy mouthfeel with notes of chocolate and coffee in addition to a bitter finish from the hops. Try Without A Stout, from Roundabout Brewery in Lawrenceville. They say it’s an uncomplicated stout with lovely notes of chocolate due to loads of dark malt. I haven’t had a beer I didn’t like there yet!

As the saying goes, everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s raise a glass on March 17 and begin transforming our winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. Cheers!

Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”

Categories: Lifestyles | Food Drink
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.