February 28, 2022
With the iconic St. Patrick's Day approaching, we felt it was only appropriate to highlight Irish beers. The beautiful Emerald Isle has contributed to some of the most iconic beers in the world and the less iconic beers are true hidden gems. Like, with many beverages, beers crafted in different regions take on some regional characteristics that make them so special. We'll be featuring some of the most popular Irish beers but there are many more that you may be missing out on. We encourage you to learn more and explore all that the Irish have to offer.
Serving Up Your Irish Brews
Let's talk about one of the most important things when it comes to beer, how to properly serve it. You're probably thinking, how can you go wrong with serving beer but it's more about being right and everybody wants to be right. All beer contains some level of carbonation, it is the delightful thing that delivers the body and mouthfeel to our beer. It is what tickles are noses and delivers the aromas to your nose and palate. It is an essential part of your beer.
While canning and bottling practices are advanced, they just never capture that "fresh from the tap" taste, which is why we always recommend investing in a kegerator. While the initial investment is high, this baby pays for itself in the long run, both financially and by delivering you an elevated drinking experience for years to come. You can learn about how a kegerator can save you money here. Learn about if a kegerator is right for you in our article here.
You have to consider the style of beer you're trying to serve because this will affect the type of kegerator and equipment you need. Stout beer, in particular, requires some very specific parts to ensure the perfect dispense of this unique beer. Your kegerator needs to be comprised of premium parts with an exceptional stout faucet, which allows you to create an effortless cascading effect when pouring your beer. This cascading effect creates the delicious mouthfeel and body of a stout.
We can't recommend the Kegco Guinness® Dispensing Kegerators enough! These unique kegerators are designed specifically to perfectly dispense Guinness® Irish Stout. The all stainless steel contact parts, ensure that each pour is clean and fresh tasting down to the last drop. The high-quality stout faucet allows you full control of your pour while perfectly cascading your stout into the glass, achieving the ideal foamy head and rich body associated with an Irish stout.
As for dispensing all other Irish beers, a high-quality kegerator is all you need to achieve the perfect pour. With its carbon dioxide dispense system, a kegerator perfectly dispenses beer and maintains its beautiful effervescent mouthfeel. There is nothing like the experience of drinking beer straight from the tap. The unique dispensing system elevates the aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel of the beer. This is really the only way to truly enjoy a well-crafted beer whether you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day or you're just celebrating the end of a great day.
Irish Beer Styles
With over 300 years of beer history under their belt, the Irish have developed some iconic brews that anyone can enjoy. Each beer style has its own unique set of characteristics that make it special. There are two Irish beer styles that are well-known throughout the world and they are, the Irish Dry Stout and the Irish Red Ale.
Irish Dry Stout
Probably one of the most iconic beers in the world is the Irish Dry Stout. This iconic stout was born in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. While he had little brewing experience, he hired an expert porter to help him, developing one of the most well-known beers in the world.
Intended to be a stronger and roaster version of a porter, the beer was originally called a Stout Porter but the porter was eventually dropped in modern times because of its lack of resemblance to a porter. You can learn more about Porters versus Stouts in our article here.
Irish Stout Characteristics
Deep brown to midnight black in appearance, Irish Dry Stouts can be clear or opaque and they also have a signature thick, creamy, and long-lasting foamy head. Many people will tell you that a perfect foamy head can only be achieved when dispensed from the tap. It is an integral part of the Irish Stout drinking experience.
This beer style has a moderate, roasted, grainy sharpness of flavor, with some light to moderate acidic sourness and medium to high hop bitterness. The roasted grain note provides a dry, coffee-like finish with some bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate character, and the creaminess of the body of this beer provides a balance to the beverage.
Dry Stout can range from medium-light to medium-full in body, with low to moderate carbonation. For a beer with high hop bitterness and a large proportion of dark grains present, this style of beer is exceptionally smooth due to its rich and creamy body. It's why so many of these stouts are served on a nitro system because it limits the bitterness while enhancing the smooth and creamy texture.
The nitrogen dispense system makes Irish Dry Stouts so unique. Using nitrogenated beer gas to carbonate the beer instead of carbon dioxide, give nitro beers the creamy mouthfeel and cascading head of bubbles that form the thick head at the top of the glass. Putting nitro beers on tap requires special draft equipment, including a nitrogen gas tank, U-system keg coupler, and stout faucet.
Irish Stout Food Pairings
You can't enjoy an Irish Stout without some delicious food to go with it! This beer style is a versatile pairing with a variety of foods. Some versions of the Irish Dry Stout are actually brewed with oysters! Due to their briny flavor, they pair so well with the dry, profound bitterness of the beer.
Basically, this beer style will pair perfectly with any member of the shellfish family. The sweetness from seafood is amplified ever so well when paired with this briny Irish Stout. Another delicious pairing is pork, from ham to sausage, or bacon or tenderloin this salty and often cured meat compliments the brine in the beer and if roasted, the flavor compliments the roasted flavors in this beer style. In general, heartier, richer foods just work well with an Irish Stout, including, meat pie, barbecued beef, burgers, or ribeye steak.
Corned beef and cabbage are staples during St. Patrick's Day celebrations in America and a bottle of Guinness or Irish Dry Stout is the ideal beer fr braising the meat and vegetables. Also, if you're making a pot of beef stew adding in, a bottle of this beer will complement it magnificently and enhance all the meaty flavors. Most cheeses don't partner well with this beer but an aged Dubliner cheddar is one of the few kinds of cheese that really work. Finally, for those with a sweet tooth, fruit tarts, pies, chocolate soufflé, tiramisu or mousse are an excellent choice.
Irish Red Ale
Similar to the English Pale Ale but with a little bit of roasted barley, the Irish Red Ale has an iconic red hue to it due to the malt used. This malt not only gives the beer a red appearance but also provides a toasty, dry flavor, making it very smooth and highly drinkable. Surprisingly, it doesn't have a huge following in its native land but in America, it has been popularized by some bigger name brands. Also, with the massive growth of the craft beer industry, Irish Red Ales are often crafted by small brewers for St. Patrick's Day.
Irish Red Ale Characteristics
This beer style has a low to moderate malt aroma, with hints of caramel, toast, and toffee. You may even detect some butterscotch or buttered popcorn flavor, as far as hops go, there is very little and usually just enough to provide some support.
Their signature amber to reddish copper color is clean and clear with a minimal off-white head. Upon initially tasting, you'll notice a solid, slightly sweet caramel malt flavor with some roasted grain and a dry finish. You will barely be able to detect any hops, it is practically non-existent in this beer style. You won't find the fruity esters available in an English Pale Ale, despite their similarities.
This beer style is an incredibly smooth drinking beer for malt fans with alcohol levels rarely being higher than 6%. You can consider this beer to be on the lighter side. The medium mouthfeel feels slick and enjoyable in the mouth.
Irish Red Food Pairings
Since the beer has no assertive characteristics in any particular direction, Irish Red ale goes with just about anything! Chicken, barbecue, seafood, burgers, or even pizza are all great pairings. This beer style tastes so great with some spicy food since the sweetness and clean, dry finish help extinguish and balance out the heat. This makes it a wonderful pairing for Thai, Indian or Chinese food.
A pint with traditional corned beef and cabbage is an incredible combination. The cleanses the palate with something clean and refreshing to counter the saltiness of the corned beef. Additionally, tangy cheeses make a delightful pairing, and honestly, any desserts containing nuts or caramel is a good choice with this mildly flavored beer.
Choosing the Right Glassware
Almost as important as the means of dispensing the beers is the glassware. Glassware can really make or break your beer drinking experience, this is especially the case when it comes to Irish Stouts. Glassware shapes the drinking experience by retaining the appropriate amount of head and controlling the flow of the beer onto the palate, enhancing the flavors of the beer. Choosing the right glass for your beers is so essential that we wrote a detailed article on the topic here.
Pint glasses are always a good option for most beers because it measures out the ideal 16-ounce serving and allow the head to just collect at the very top. The wide-open mouth allows the aromas to escape and envelop your nose as you drink. This is the ideal vessel for Irish Red Ales, as this is a versatile beer, poured in a versatile glass.
Stout beers are often served in a snifter or goblet-like glass because this bowl shape allows the aromas of the beer to rise and pool inside the glass. This allows you to inhale in all the rich and flavorful aromas that affect your tasting experience. The wider bowl but smaller mouth opening of the glass allows for more head to collect and it helps it last longer. There is so much flavor in the foamy head of the beer that we often underestimate.
Beer For All Occasions
Whether you're looking to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or just looking to celebrate the end of a day, we can help you find the perfect dispense system for you! Our team of experts has been supplying beverage solutions for the beer industry for over two decades. Let us help you get set up for your next celebration or home bar upgrade. Contact us at 800-710-9939.