St. Patrick’s Day: A Craft Beer Perspective

This coming weekend features one of the stranger holidays in our calendar.  Most holiday’s have a defined purpose even though many people don’t necessarily follow them according to their initial inceptions purpose.  Christmas has turned into a holiday surrounding a mystical fat jolly man who is reclusive and a very accomplished peeping tom.  Once a year he emerges from his home to break into our houses for the purpose of leaving presents, eating our cookies, and drinking our milk.  An interesting take that certainly deviates from the original purpose behind the holiday.  Our next significant holiday follows a similar strange twist.  Evidently Easter is now all about celebrating bunnies and candy.  I don’t even know the storyline behind this one, but it is a definite twist away from the original meaning.

I had to do a little research to see just how far we have come from the original meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.  Like most holidays, it was initially set up as a religious holiday to celebrate Saint Patrick.  He is one of the most recognized patron saints of the Catholic church, and he is basically recognized as the man responsible for bringing Catholicism to Ireland.  Evidently he used the shamrock as a key component to explaining the trinity to the people of Ireland at that time.  At least we have some insignia that has ties to the initial meaning.  The actual holiday started in the 17th century and was known as a feast day.  It was considered a day when you were permitted to take a break from the restrictions of Lent.  Therefore, you were allowed to eat and drink as you normally would in St. Patrick’s honor.  Funny as it may seem, blue was actually originally associated with St. Patrick, but it is fairly obvious how that has changed over time.

I have never really had a year when I have gone all out for St. Patrick’s day.  I’ve worn my share of green, and I’ve definitely done a few other things that are stereotypical of the Americanized holiday, but one thing I’ve never done is try to get completely wasted throughout the day.  Around here there are a ton of things you can do to completely forget the holiday.  Kegs & Eggs actually happens on Friday before the holiday.  They start it early in the morning and begin serving around 8 AM.  Get drunk early!  Shamrock fest, on the other hand, is an all day concert that has the pretty much same effect.  There of course are events and festivities throughout the city the whole day, and you can drink all the Guinness and green beer you want.

Just last year I ended up at a local restaurant before heading to my own job for St. Patrick’s day.  My friend, Dave, was manning the bar with green stained fingers from making Coors Lite green.  I think it was at that moment that I realized this is not a craft beer holiday.  There are beers that are brewed in the Irish style, and there are a couple beers I found that seem to use the holiday as a marketing tool, but overall, there aren’t a whole lot of breweries that brew beers specifically for this day.  I would have though, with a holiday focused on the consumption of alcohol, more craft breweries would get in on the show.  It would seem, however, that most of them don’t really brew for the occasion.  They brew for Halloween, Christmas, the seasons, and other special events, but it would seem they mostly stay away from St. Patrick’s Day.  Even with my searches for different craft brews dealing with the day, it would seem most suggested are brewed regularly anyway.

For me, this year, I do actually have some fairly big plans.  Saturday morning I will wake up to run my first ever half-marathon.  I really don’t know if I’ll end up with a green beer in my hand later on that day, or if I’ll get a Guinness somewhere along the way.  Regardless, it will be a holiday to remember.  I guess I’ll have to see if I can incorporate a little craft beer in my own way this weekend.



  1. Flying Dog’s Lucky SOB Irish Red – maybe. I think it’s released for Saint Pat’s and Draft only. Not sure how long it’s available. Other than that, you’re right, not too much. I wonder if it has anything to do with brewers pushing to get their spring lines out? Or maybe it’s as simple as them thinking they can get enough market share with Guinness being the 400lb gorilla in the room.

    The only other option is a small brewpub. They may brew something special for St Pats.

    Great post.

    • Flying Dog was the only one I found that seemed like it was actually brewed for the occasion as well. Agreed, you might be able to go to the breweries and find some brewhouse only release for the event. I really don’t have that luxury, but I would be interested to know if that’s how they limit their celebrations. Maybe it is all due to so many other productions already going on?

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