You had plans to drink a beer this weekend, didn’t you? I’m no Miss Cleo, this was just a hunch. St. Patrick’s Day weekend is one of the biggest drinking holidays in America, and along with Irish coffee and Irish whiskey, Irish beers are the intoxicant of choice. Unfortunately, depending on your social circle, you might encounter some pedantic snob this weekend who’s going to try to tell you that drinking Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day is super cliché, and you should try this locally brewed Irish red instead. Okay, fair, you definitely should try the locally brewed Irish red, because that style is under-appreciated and completely delicious, but hear me out on Guinness Draught Stout first: It’s probably the best St. Patrick’s Day beer there is. Allow me to lay out the evidence.
At just 4.2 ABV, it packs the same alcohol content as Bud Light and Coors Light. Americans tend to associate darker beers with higher alcohol and overpowering flavors, but that’s just not the case. Even though it’s flavorful, Guinness is relatively light in terms of texture, and it’s not at all sweet or heavy on the palate. Its subtle roasted-malt flavors are reminiscent of coffee and cocoa, making it a way better breakfast beer than people assume. And a 12-ounce pour contains just over 125 calories, or 15 more than a can of the low-cal hard seltzer White Claw.
Though it recently opened a multimillion dollar brewery in Maryland, Guinness still brews all its stouts—Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout—in Dublin. The Maryland brewery focuses primarily on Guinness Blonde American Lager, as well as some other non-stout styles.
If you’re studying to become a beer judge, the beer judging manual lists Guinness Extra Stout—available here in the U.S., but less common than Draught Stout—as the example of what an Irish extra stout should be. An Irish extra stout is just a smidge fuller and richer than a regular Irish stout, but no true beer expert would ever tell you that Guinness Draught isn’t a mighty fine example of an Irish stout.
Moral of the story? Drink what you like for the holiday. If that’s a Guinness, good choice. If it’s an Irish red ale, just as fine. Irish whiskey? Sláinte. Lucky Charms beer? Ehhhh, I’m less enthused.