They’re out there. You know who I’m talking about.
Them. The pseudo-Irish.
You’ve seen them wandering the streets every March, in search of truth, hope, and free plastic hats. They have come to define St. Patrick’s Day for anyone who has ever enjoyed a bar or tavern.
Even the best, most authentic Irish pubs will be filled with these people. But a green-hued horde of rank amateurs doesn’t need to drown your enjoyment in a wash of watery suds and green food-coloring. Yes, you can maintain your craft beer lover status while safely assimilating with the masses.
Legit tips to raise your beer game
Just follow these handy tips and you’ll find yourself happily enjoying the holiday as the Irish intended – with good times, good friends, and good hop ratings.
And don’t worry, we’ll leave out the trite tips you’ll find everywhere else this week. After all, you’re beer enthusiasts, not public menaces, so we’ll assume you’re smart enough to:
Eat the right foods
Not mix too much, or too often
Call an Uber
(Alright, we’ll probably still remind you to call an Uber. Safety first, kids…)
Anyway, here goes. Start taking notes.
Tip 1: Plan your day accordingly
Every St. Paddy’s starts the same way – with delusions of grandeur. Whether you’re 21 or regularly receive AARP literature, visions of bar hopping and all-nighters dance in your head. It’s okay, really! That’s a natural reaction to a day largely defined by drinking and cured meat. But it’s also why proper planning is a must.
Even though bars across the world will be stocked to the rafters with your standard slew of domestics (and are likely getting an incentive to push them on you) reputable establishments will often have some special perks for the hop-heads. Keep in mind, these incentives are probably limited, so make sure those are the first places you check out.
Bars will open early for the holiday, so any specials and promotions will likely be gone by early afternoon. If you expect to grab a few pints of your favorite IPA (and maybe a related t-shirt) get to these spots early, enjoy your drinks in relative peace, and leave once the place begins filling with frat bros and volunteer firemen.
Those guys will buy a boatload of the good stuff to impress their friends before they switch to swill, leading to tapped-out kegs, a ton of abandoned, half-full glasses, and a whole mess of annoyances.
As the day progresses, and the Irish bars become more populated, your next stops will work themselves out, as you’ll realize after reading the next few tips…
Tip 2: Don’t limit yourself to Irish pubs only
Everyone may be Irish on March 17, but this doesn’t mean you need to cram yourself into every corner bar with a shamrock out front. While the weekend warriors are crowbarring their way through every “O’Flanagan’s,” “Shenanigans” and “Oh God, Not Again’s” in town, consider going to some more offbeat spots.
Why? Because again, everyone is Irish on March 17 … and that includes businesses that want a piece of the shepherd’s pie. Even though you likely wouldn’t call these places your “regular” hangouts, massive crowds should make you consider the following locations, all of which usually run deals to stay competitive:
Wine and cigar bars
No, that last one wasn’t a typo. Places like Chili’s and TGI Fridays desperately want some St. Paddy’s profits, and usually run outstanding specials on all drinks, including their normally overpriced beer selections. Combine that with a rotating lineup of tap drafts, and you might just stumble onto a great beer selection, at a great price, with relatively relaxed environments.
(We won’t ever justify ordering something called an “Appe-teaser,” though. Just say no.)
Tip 3: Venture outside your usual brands
Just like your locations should be varied, as a beer lover, you should use this day like a hall pass. You normally wouldn’t spend an entire day drinking, so consider St. Paddy’s a “bonus” day of sorts – a day on which you should celebrate all things beer, and not just your usual lineup.
Yes, we know we told you not to mix too much. But no one would fault you for trying that grapefruit-infused pale lager, or even a minimally carbonated pub ale. In addition to maxing out your Untappd badges, over the course of a long day you might just discover a new guilty pleasure.
That said …
Tip 4: Embrace session beers
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with session brews. On one hand, they usually taste fantastic. On the other, the relatively low alcohol content often removes the satisfying “edge” of my usual choice, causing me to drink more of them, possibly weighing me down by day’s end.
But on a day like St. Paddy’s, when you’re going to be out and about longer than you probably should, a session’s low alcohol content and high hop ratio needs to be part of the plan. We recommend Founder’s All-Day IPA, or EvilTwin’s Bikini Beer – both of which are suitably hoppy, heady and outstanding in any situation … especially a marathon day of celebrating.
Tip 5: Limit your swag grab
Free shirts? Sure, grab one. Maybe two, if there’s a particularly cool craft brewery handing them out. But do you really need another Miller March Madness tee? Not likely. Leave them for the kids who do their laundry quarterly, and lighten your haul for the day.
As far as branded bottle openers, koozies, glow necklaces, playing cards and the like. No. Just no. You’re an adult. Move along.
Tip 6: End the day when the beer stops tasting good
If you manage to make it past the four-hour mark without any ill-effects, you’re likely in it for the long haul. But this is a dangerous window. You’re not necessarily impaired, but you DO run the risk of turning a “day of celebration” into a “day of drinking,” which are two very different things.
If you find yourself saying “I could save a few bucks by switching to Coors Light.” or “Well, 2-for-1 is a great deal!” then you’re on the wrong side of that fence. Cut your losses, keep your wits about you, and grab a ride home from someone who didn’t get too Irish that afternoon. (Or better yet, call that Uber we promised we wouldn’t mention earlier.)
Remember, we are good beer drinkers because we love the taste of good beer. If your palate is wrecked from trying too many varieties, or from drinking your selections too quickly, it’s time to tap out. You’ll thank yourself on the 18th … especially if you have to work.
Parting thoughts on partying right
Congrats on making it this far. As fellow craft beer enthusiasts, we hope these tips were as obvious and unnecessary as the “stay hydrated” and “eat food” suggestions at the top of the page. But all the same, we’d be remiss if we didn’t send out this friendly reminder.
For many, St. Patrick’s Day represents everything wrong with beer, bars and celebrations. But with a little foresight, and a dose of planning, you can turn this annual amateur hour into a day worth remembering.
Show us your cans (or bottles and drafts)! Share your St. Patrick’s Day brew pics in The Hop Nation Facebook Group.