Irish beer guide

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Mar 12, 2014
Enjoying some Smithwick's at Palace Bar in the Temple Bar District of Dublin.

Guinness — an Irish dry stout. It's been called the milkshake of beers. It's thick and heavy, coating the throat on its way down. Many Irishmen swear by it, and though it's not my cup of beer, you have to try it at least once. I couldn't even finish my complimentary pint at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. But it was a warm day in May and for me, Guinness seems to be a beer for a cold and rainy day — which are plentiful on the Emerald Isle. And jut so you know, the Guinness stout we get imported here in the states can't compare to the original in Ireland. This is a theory that has been extensively tested. If you like Guinness, you may also like Murphy's Irish Stout or O'Hara's Celtic Stout.

Smithwicks — an Irish red ale. And it is pronounced "schmit-icks" for those who don't want to be laughed at if you are ever ordering in Ireland. This is my favorite Irish beer. It is much lighter that the stout but still has plenty of bite and flavor. I stuck with Smithwick's a lot in Ireland because it was the middle ground — I could drink several without feeling too full and without it going to my head. Red ales use roasted unmalted barley for a hint of cocoa and it has a hint of fruit from the ale yeast's fermentation. I believe Ingle's carries this one for a reasonable price so it would be great for your St. Patrick's Day party. If you like this one, you may also like Murphy's Irish Red or Kilkenny's Irish Cream Ale.

Harp — an Irish lager. The first time I had Harp was in 2006 when I was in New York City for the St. Patrick's Day parade. While this time period was way before I developed a love of beer, I liked it. It's a crisp and light beer perfect for the summer months. It starts with a bitter taste but the after taste, which is the most important to me, is clean and refreshing. You should be able to find this one at local grocery stores as well.

Magners — an Irish hard cider. I have to include a couple of the hard ciders because they were on tap at every pub I ever went to in Ireland. Magners is the most popular followed by Bulmers, but to tell you the truth they taste about the same to me. I think one was served more in the Irish Republic while the other was served in Northern Ireland. There were several nights in the three weeks I was there that I just didn't have the stomach for a strong beer. So I went with the hard cider — or as I like to call it, tasty apple juice with alcohol. While there are several hard ciders available locally, I haven't been able to find Magners or Bulmers in North Carolina. Perhaps World Market would order it if requested.