When it comes to actual St. Patrick’s Day traditions, Aaron Ridgeway is going to have to stop you at the color green.
“There’s a bit of debate about it now,” says Ridgeway, who works at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. “The color green is said to not be the original color of St. Patrick — it’s actually blue.”
Chalk it up to Irish immigrants and their green homeland for it becoming associated with the country’s patron saint. But whatever color you’re wearing, the day is as much about tipping our hats to Ireland's contributions in culture and literature as the music, food and people we come together with for the occasion.
“In Ireland, we call it ‘having the craic’ — that is, the communal aspect of enjoying an experience together,” Ridgeway says. “Wherever you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, it’s about enjoying it together in whatever way you can.”
At the Storehouse, he leads the Connoisseur Experience, a tasting of four variants of Guinness in a private bar. And even the people at Guinness know you can’t live on beer alone — the Storehouse also has four restaurants.
Ridgeway gave us some tasting notes and pairing ideas for some of the most common versions of Ireland’s most famous export:
First brewed in just 1959, but has become the brewery’s most popular product.
Tasting notes: Bitter in the back of the throat, roasted malt on the palate, sweetness in the front
Pairings: “Guinness Draught goes very well with cakes, sweets, desserts and breads because that malt character translates very well to those kinds of dishes.”
Guinness Extra Stout
More than 200 years old, when the trend was toward more full-bodied, stouter versions of porter.
Tasting notes: Strong carbonation, sharp finish, dry mouthfeel.
Pairings: “It goes particularly well with seafood and that salty, sometimes smoky flavor really comes across and balances with a roast.”
Foreign Extra Stout
This is the beer that goes into Beef and Guinness Stew.
Tasting notes: Huge hop content adds a strong floral note; dark fruit on the back of the palate, bitterness balanced with strong roasted notes, molasses and toffee on the finish.
Pairing:“A powerful beer, a complex flavor that goes very well with spicy dishes or more robust dishes like beef as well.”