What to drink on St. Paddy’s Day

NOT GREEN BEER………..END OF POST!

Green_beer

All kidding aside, if you really want to drink like a full blooded Irishman or woman, then there’s really only a few choices available to you. And, since picking a beer on St. Patrick’s Day is serious business, lets not mess around with any clever jokes or anecdotes and get straight to the goods!

The Irish Stout (aka Dry Irish Stout)

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Any red blooded (or black blooded if they drink enough of it) Irishman/woman will tell you that there’s only one style of beer to drink on this special day and that’s a fresh pint of “the black stuff”. Don’t let the colour fool you though; this is not a heavy style. Weighing in between 4-4.5%, this is a sessionable stout that will let you knock a couple back without knocking you off your seat. The go to for an Irish Stout is usually a Guinness (especially when they’re on special) or Murphy’s also makes a good one. However, there are some amazing local examples from Persephone, Strange Fellows and plenty more that you should definitely check out. This style pairs nicely with fish and chips, pork, or chocolate deserts.

Irish Extra Stout

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The bigger brother of the Irish Stout; this version simply has more of everything. More alcohol, more flavour, more hops. There’s really not much more to it then that. Food pairings would be similar, but since this is a more robust version of the Irish Stout, you may want food with more robust flavours. BBQ pork or Beef would work well, as do rich chocolaty deserts. Dark chocolate would also be quite complimentary.

Irish Red

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If stouts are not your thing, then the next runner up would be a good ol’ Irish Red Ale. Similar to an American Amber, but with a heavier malt character and less hop presence. A traditional Irish Red will usually have a similar amount of alcohol to a Irish Stout (4-4.5%), making it another sessionable beer. The problem with finding one in the Lower Mainland though, is actually FINDING a traditional version of it brewed locally. While there are some great Red Ales out there, most of the local ones you’ll find have a strong West Coast influence….meaning more hops. This makes them more of a Red IPA then an Irish Red. So, if you don’t mind breaking with tradition then check out offerings from Red Racer, Off The Rail Brewing, and Black Kettle. Roxy, from Moody Ales, also makes a great Honey Red Ale that’s offered in small batches on occasion. Otherwise Smithwicks, Kilkeny, or Murphy’s Red will offer the most traditional Irish Red experience. Roasted meats pair very well indeed.

Irish Lager

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So you don’t like Stouts and you just can’t get on board with Irish Red’s, but desperately want to stick with the Irish theme? Well you can always go with an Irish Lager.What sets an Irish Lager apparent from a regular North American Lager? Honestly, we couldn’t really tell you and there’s only one we can really name that uses that style identity and that’s Harp’s Irish Lager. It’s only a little different then North American Lagers so if that’s your comfort zone then this should suit you just fine. Harp is a little tough to find on tap in these parts, but specialty liquor stores usually have it available. Mild foods like fish, chicken, or salads pair well with Lagers.

So that’s it peoples! Have yourselves a fun and safe St. Patrick’s day and, no matter what beer your drinking, try and support your local brewer whenever you can.

Cheers!

SVB

Experimentation and why we brew what we brew.

Test Batch

If you’ve ever looked through our brewing history, or kept track of our Facebook page, then you’ve probably discovered our love for English style beers. It’s fair to say that our enthusiasm for a West Coast style IPA is a bit of an anomaly when looking at our catalog. The other thing you’ve probably discovered is that we like to put our own spin on the traditional. Some of these are relatively common tweaks using common brewing ingredients (Rye-Porter) and others are more wild and experimental (Pumpkin Spice Latte anybody?). That being said we try not to stray too far from what makes those styles great in the first place. This is by no means a template or how you should build your own recipes (we still have A LOT to learn). It’s just some insight into how we work.

Our Mocha Stout is a good example of how we like to construct one of our recipes. Naturally we’ll start by deciding what style we want to brew, but it’s not long until we’re racking our brains for a way to throw the drinker a curve ball. Something that makes them say “You put what in your beer? Does that even work?”. We won’t necessarily throw some random object into our for the sake of making it different. What we’re trying to find is something that will complement the style. For the Mocha Stout we had already seen Chocolate Stouts and Porters, as well as Coffee Stouts and Porters, but never a combination of the two using actual coffee and cocoa nibs. It was a suggestion that Dennis came up with after Jesse and I had been going back and forth about whether to go with coffee or chocolate. It was a solid suggestion and one that seemed to be a natural fit for the style.

Barista Mocha Stout
Barista Mocha Stout

Once we figure out what to shoot for we’ll usually start with a standard recipe for the style and make adjustments to help showcase our “wacky” ingredients. For the Mocha we really wanted it to complement the coffee flavor so we upped the Roasted Barley a little, while giving the Chocolate malt a little more love. We also wanted the rich and creamy characteristic you’d get with a real Mocha Latte, so we used Flaked Oats rather then Flaked Barley. All of these small tweaks can drastically change the impact of these new ingredients and how they work together to make a great beer.

By now it’s pretty easy to see how we approach each beer and it’s ingredients. We may have a solid recipe we use for a starting point, but that’s all it really is. Sure we could just take our Porter Recipe and throw cocoa nibs in it, but that’s exactly what it would taste like. Where’s the fun in that? Why not have a beer that stands on it’s own rather then on the shoulders of others?

Stay tuned for our next post!