Cheers to Irish Beer!

inset-irishbeerIreland might be a small, but it’s beer business is mighty and brewing in Ireland has a long history. Up until the 1700s, apart from a few small brewers, most of the beer consumed in Ireland was imported from England and Scotland.

In 1725, Arthur Guinness opened a brewery in Dublin. After some years of experimentation with English porter recipes, he created the Guinness stout that is so well known today. The next 50 years saw more than 200 breweries opening in Ireland, more than 50 of them in Dublin alone. Dublin brewers began to use the canal system to transport their beers out of the city to the country, allowing them to buy up smaller breweries.

Slowly, the number of smaller breweries dwindled, leaving just a handful of larger companies still operating by the mid-1900s. In the 1980s, the kindling of Irish craft beers began and several small-batch breweries and brewpubs began opening across the country. Currently, Ireland produces about 800 million litres of beer per year!

Though most people living outside of Ireland associate Irish beer with stout, the majority of the beer made and drunk in Ireland today is of the lighter lager or ale variety. This St Patrick’s Day, pick up some Irish Beer and lift a glass to the long tradition of Irish brewing.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale has a long history, dating back to the 14th century, when the beer was brewed in the St Francis Abbey in Kilkenny, Ireland. It has a clear, medium copper-red colour and a very creamy and smooth finish. Look for light hops balanced with sweet toasted malt flavours.

Pair with: Sharp Irish Cheddar.

Guinness Draught

Guinness Draught originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries and sold in over 120. The thick, smooth and creamy head comes from mixing the beer with both nitrogen and carbon dioxide when poured, resulting in very fine bubbles and very little fizz. Guinness features a mild burnt sugar flavour that is derived from roasted, unmalted barley as well as other ingredients that are part of a closely guarded, centuries-old secret recipe. Look for flavours of sweet toasted malt, coffee, molasses and bitter hops.

Pair with: Rich dishes like beef stew, sharp cheeses or even desserts like chocolate cake.

Harp Lager

Harp Lager is relative newcomer to the Irish beer scene. It was first brewed by Guinness in 1960, when it’s huge success earned it a place in Guinness’ permanent range. The namesake harp logo on the can is the famous Trinity College Harp, which is over 600 years old (likely the oldest harp in the world) and which is also Ireland’s national symbol. This lager is light, crisp and refreshing, with some citrus and hop bitterness and strong carbonation.

Pair with: Soda bread, grilled cheese, or deep fried foods like fish and chips.