In Defense of St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 2017

By Will Gordon, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day is great. Perhaps you already hold this enlightened opinion, in which case I recommend you skip the rest of this article and shamrock down to whichever avenue offers the blackest Guinness in your town.

But maybe you’re in the other camp of folks who read about beer online, the ones who derive their wilted rendition of pleasure from railing against “made-up holidays” and “amateur nights” and “people deriving whatever silly joy they can on a dreary weekday in March.”

To be fair, I can see where those mopes are coming from. The internet exists, of course, to facilitate pornography, fraud, and argument, and our little beer niche is awfully light on the first two. If you actually become physically aroused by “beer porn” such as fridges full of Trillium or Citra-studded corsages, I must urge you to report immediately to your nearest medical professional so that she may administer a corrective frown along with a prescription for sunlight. And probably a bath – you sound dirty, inside and out.

As for fraud, beer has for the most part avoided the sort of scandals that rile up the winos and whiskiers. You may disapprove of the markup on gray market Dark Lord, and you have no guarantee that it wasn’t stored under a fluorescent chandelier in the bowels of hell, but you can be nearly certain that it is, in fact, Dark Lord. The grape and corn connoisseurs have no such security.

Take a biology class, and stop looking in the toilet.”

So that leaves us with little to do online other than bicker about trivial style distinctions – can a beer rightly call itself a purple IPA if it is, in fact, more of a deep blue? Is American gose too sour or too preoccupied with protecting the Saudi royal family? Is a beer really “craft” if it was brewed by a clean-shaven guy with decent medical coverage? – and also cast our soggy lot with the rest of the food internet by decrying the rise of “fake marketing holidays.” Long live the twitter iconoclasts who proudly declare, “Uh, I don’t need a calendar to tell me when to drink pilsner” or “Wasn’t National Ham Cupcake Day like just last week?” These stern denunciations of banal PR campaigns are simply devolved versions of the too-cool beer drinker’s longstanding scorn for St. Patrick’s Day.

So now that we’ve identified these killbuzzes and made excuses for them, let’s explain why they are wrong. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. Here are seven reasons why today is great.

1. Green beer means fresh beer and clean draft lines.
Green beer, which shows up in more anti-Paddy complaints than it does actual pint glasses, is cornier than Irish beef, but it does zero harm and a fair measure of actual good. If you’re served a green-tinted macro draft on March 17, that keg was almost certainly tapped within the past several hours.

Green beer on St. Patrick’s Day is even better news for the next day’s crowd, because a green-dyed hose needs to be cleaned or replaced before the tap line is returned to regular duty. Bars that serve holiday-colored beer aren’t always the most fastidious about draft system maintenance, so this could be the first time the line’s been cleaned since the transition away from pumpkin beer in November. Embrace it. And no, it doesn’t turn your pee green. Take a biology class, and stop looking in the toilet.

2. Nothing involving the NCAA basketball tournament is bad.
Well, I mean, other than the NCAA itself. But my point here is that St. Patrick’s Day generally coincides with America’s finest sporting event, and on great years such as this one, it lands on one of the first two magical days of round-the-clock action. It is very fun to drink with strangers during daylight hours when a half-dozen different basketball games are on TV. St. Patrick’s Day, remember, is great.

3. Guinness is monumentally important.
In addition to serving as a crucial gateway beer that ushers young drinkers along their path from keg-party beer to craft, Guinness Draught is also a pretty damn good beer. The company’s no longer independently owned, and low-alcohol Irish stouts tend not to fare well among the scorekeepers, so Guinness doesn’t get a ton of love in the craft beer underworld these days, but all of our drinking lives would be markedly worse if it’d never existed. Among other advances, Guinness pioneered nitrogenated beer, emphasized the importance of careful serving with the two-step pour and the dedicated glassware, and first taught barflies that sometimes a better experience is worth an extra buck.

Mike Duesenberg / Good Beer Hunting. Data: UntappdGuinness checkins by day since 2014. Note the St. Patrick's day bumps.

So even – no, especially – if you think your tastes have evolved beyond the world’s best-selling stout, at least this one day a year you ought to take your damn hat off, shut your mouth, open it to order a Guinness, shut it again because it’s weird to just sit there with your mouth open for two minutes while your beer pours, then open it again to drink one of the most significant beers in modern history.

4. No one looks good in green, which is very democratizing.
Let’s say you’re one of the rare craft beer enthusiasts who happens not to look like an underwear model. Good news, pal, today’s your day! Everybody looks sickly and misshapen in their St. Patrick’s Day finest, so you’ll blend right in.

5. St. Patrick’s Day is fairly inclusive, as tribal holidays go!
The “everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!” shtick might be a bit goofy, but name another mainstream identity-related holiday with a similarly inclusive spirit. Even if it’s superficial, and even if the cranky old undead who run some of the parades still insist on being divisive, St. Patrick’s Day is for the most part a come on, come all affair.

6. It provides an excellent platform to judge your fellow drinkers.
But maybe love isn’t all you need. Perhaps you, like me, also require intel as to which humans should be avoided at all costs. In that case, there’s no better holiday than one that helps identify the people who refer to Jameson as “Jaymo” and/or order car bomb shots.  

7. There’s more good Irish beer than you may have realized.
O’Hara’s Irish Red has been good for a long time now, and their newer Leann Follain Russian imperial stout is the perfect 8 p.m. Paddy’s Day nightcap. Porterhouse’s An Brain Blasta strong ale is fruity and complex, and their Wrasslers XXXX Stout is a nicely updated version of the traditional style. And Murphy’s Irish Stout is a fine alternative for people who fancy themselves too damn interesting to order Guinness, yet want to drink Guinness.  

In conclusion, St. Patrick’s Day is a great beer-drinker’s occasion that you should enjoy to its fullest, and any internet food-debater who says otherwise deserves a knuckle hotdog right to his stout-hole.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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