Beer drinkers are among the most loyal of consumers because they rarely veer from their favourite brand.
But true beer enthusiasts are more adventurous than your average beer drinker. They match beer to food, mood, seasons, or holidays like St. Patrick’s Day – the perfect time for a traditional stout.
In fact, celebrating St. Paddy’s Day is an ideal excuse to sample a few brews and learn how to distinguish pale ale from lager, or porter from stout.
Wendy Papadopoulous, who is the brew master at Big Tide Brewing Company in Saint John, NB, says Canadian craft beers have been gaining in popularity over the past two decades. That growing appreciation means more people are tapping into different styles of beer that showcase the brewer’s alchemy of barley malt, hops, water, and yeast.
We asked Wendy (a microbiologist by training and a brew master for 22 years) for her tips on choosing the right beer for St. Patrick’s Day – and any other day.
Variety is a good thing. The beer you choose on a hot summer afternoon might be different than what you want on a cold winter night. A nice, citrusy India pale ale (IPA) is refreshing on the patio, whereas a smooth, creamy stout is the perfect quaff for relaxing by the fire. It’s fun to try beers you haven’t tried before and in Canada, we’re lucky to have lots of talented brewers continuing to offer new products that are really great.
Bitter is better for craft beer “newbies”. We make an extra special bitter that’s really popular. While the name bitter is intimidating, it’s actually just an English style pale ale that’s served on draught. It’s not bitter tasting, despite the name – it’s well balanced and not too hoppy or heavy. It’s a good “first beer” for people who are transitioning to craft beer from typical commercial brands.
Don’t be afraid of the dark. People are often afraid to try a dark beer like stout or porter, but they’re surprisingly easy on the palate and really smooth. We do a chocolate porter that uses cocoa, vanilla, a little cinnamon – people who don’t drink dark beer have one taste and they’re wowed by the marriage of the flavours. It makes for a really enjoyable drink!
St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect holiday for beer. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with beer is really a North American tradition. The origins go back to the Irish immigrants who came to North America but were treated poorly when they arrived here. They wanted to find a way to celebrate their heritage and St. Patrick’s Day as we know it was born. It’s a huge event in Saint John – the city was built by Irish immigrants. So I always make sure I’ve got Irish Red and a stout on tap for customers who want to celebrate with authentic traditional beers. But not green beer. The whole concept of adding green food colouring to beer is just wrong.
What pub will you be hitting up this St. Paddy’s? Find a rewarding one in your neighbourhood at www.vicinityrewards.ca/locations.