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March 24, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Saint Patrick’s Day

Let’s be very clear – I did not spend all of Saint Patrick’s Day in the pub. I actually spent much of Saint Patrick’s Day in three pubs. That revelation is probably a surprise to absolutely nobody but I have to say that Saint Patrick’s Day is not my favorite drinking day of the year, it’s not even close.

I’m sure old Saint Paddy was a fine fellow and I certainly applaud his no-nonsense approach to snakes. Drinking and eating all day when you should be studying is absolutely fine by me but the problem is that Saint Patrick’s Day is becoming a tad forced. Everyone seems grimly determined to “have a good time”. Having a good time too often means waiting twenty minutes for a green Guinness while watching a drunken bureaucrat sit on your lucky hat.

The cornerstone of any Saint Patrick’s Day is of course Guinness (4.1%). This sultry dark stout with the pastor’s white collar of foam polarizes opinion. Some call it “Black Gold” or “The Good Stuff”. These people invariably assert that the best Guinness is served in Ireland but will concede that even the product we get here is delightfully rich, burnt and bitter.

A true Guinness drinker will eschew the Extra Cold version in order to savour the greater depth of flavour when served at the proper temperature. These Guinness fanatics will talk at length about how a pint should be drunk in four equal mouthfuls and lament that Nigeria now quaffs more Guinness than Ireland.

Skeptics argue that beer should not be so thick you have to eat it with a spoon nor so dark that it threatens to implode and pull your eyeballs out. These people always seem to sit next to me.

New Zealand also produces some fine dark beers. The Invercargill Pitch Black Stout (4.2%) is highly regarded. Easily mistaken for a good strong coffee at first glance, Pitch Black is a deeply black beer with a coffee-coloured foam. The nose is of properly burnt Vogel’s toast and a hint of chocolate. In the glass it is silky, sumptuous and finishes clean.

Brewed just an hour north of the dodgy Salient offices, Tuatara Porter (5%) is a classic British dark beer. It pours virtually black with an espresso head. The aroma is rich, sweet and peaty while the beer itself is slightly creamy with some light chocolate flavour and those burnt Vogel’s toast notes again. The finish is short, sharp and to the point.

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