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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With These Dry Irish Stouts

It’s no secret that St. Patrick’s Day is going to look quite a bit different this year. Last year, the last-minute cancellation of St. Paddy’s celebrations around the country marked the moment most of us realized that the pandemic was a big deal. Covid put an end to our dreams of drinking green beer, shooting Irish whiskey, and savoring stouts at our favorite local pubs.

This year, we’re prepared (and an increasing number of us are vaccinated). We know there won’t be any parades and day-long celebrations at local bars (yet), but we can all still enjoy our favorite Irish food and drink from the comfort of our own homes. And a perennial all-star among these is the classic dry Irish stout.

For the uninitiated, a dry Irish stout is a dark beer that’s so red that it’s basically black in appearance. It’s known for its dry, malty flavor profile that comes from the use of roasted barley in the brewing process. Generally speaking, the style is also typified by its creamy mouthfeel, subtle coffee notes, and bitter finish.

The most well-known dry Irish stout is Guinness, but there are scores of brewers out there giving the legendary “black stuff” a run for its money. Some hail from Ireland and others merely emulate the traditional Irish brewing techniques. Below you’ll find ten of our favorite bottles and cans — from Ireland and the US — to enjoy on March 17th, 2021.

Guinness Stout

Guinness

ABV: 4.2%

Average Price: $7.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day beers, there’s no beating Guinness. This classic, dry Irish stout has been made the same way since 1759. It’s high in rich, malty flavor, but surprisingly low in calories.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of bitter coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malts. The flavor is exactly like the aroma, highlighted by hints of espresso beans, rich, creamy chocolate, roasted malt flavor. A nice, dry, bitter finish leaves you ready for another sip. And another.

Bottom Line:

It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without a few pints of Guinness. The stout is one of the more easy-drinking beers on the list with low, sessionable ABVs, a creamy texture, and a real lightness that gets lost in the craftier versions created in America.

Schlafly Irish-Style Extra Stout

Schlafly

ABV: 8%

Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Normally, Irish stouts are low in alcohol. But this Americanized extra stout from St. Louis’ Schlafly changes that idea up in a big way. Reminiscent of 18th-century Irish stouts, Schlafly Irish-Style Extra Stout is made with roasted barley, Dark Crystal malted barley, and East Kent Goldings hops.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find strong aromas of chocolate, coffee, and subtle smoke. On the palate, you’ll taste flavors of molasses, raisins, toffee, coffee. It all wraps up in a subtle, creamy, bitter hop finish.

Bottom Line:

Schlafly is the kind of brewery that makes a beer for every occasion. The Irish-Style Extra stout, with its potent 8 percent ABV, is one of the brand’s best. Just keep in mind, this is almost double the ABVs of a standard Guinness. Consider yourself warned.

Beamish Irish Stout

Beamish

ABV: 4.1%

Average Price: $8 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

If you ever visit Cork, Ireland, you might get pressured to try a Beamish before you order your first Guinness. Brewed since 1792, Beamish is known for its coffee, dark chocolate, and features a sweeter flavor than its counterpart, Guinness.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to give this beer a proper nosing and you’ll find scents of vanilla cookies, milk chocolate, and roasted coffee. The sip is filled with notes of roasted espresso beans and sweet toffee. The finish is a highlight — powered by a subtle spicy rye note.

Bottom Line:

If you’ve tried Guinness, you definitely should try Beamish too. The people of Cork demand it. Side-by-side, Beamish will be very similar to Guinness. But, it’ll have a softer side with a little more roasted bitterness.

Breckenridge Nitro Dry Irish Stout

Breckenridge

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $15.99 for a 12-pack

The Beer:

When it comes to American, Irish-style stouts, nitro is the name of the game. One of the best nitro Irish stouts is from Colorado’s Breckenridge. But this isn’t your average American remake, it’s actually made in collaboration with Belfast’s Boundary Brewing Cooperative.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find strong coffee and roasted barley flavors. The palate is full of sweet caramel, creamy vanilla, and espresso beans. It all ends in a subtly hoppy, malty, dry finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a great example of an American craft riff on a traditional Irish style. It’s a very sessionable version that benefits from the nitro’d creaminess familiarity while adding in a very American-feeling hoppiness.

Rhinegeist Nitro Luck

Rhinegeist

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $9.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Made with Maris Otter and chocolate malts, along with roasted barley, and oats, plus Magnum and Crystal hops, this creamy, velvety stout is filled with bold, rich flavors that are well-suited for late winter drinking.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is ripe with dried fruits, buttery caramel, and dark, bitter chocolate. The palate is loaded with notes of dark roast coffee, roasted malts, and sticky toffee. The finish is mellow and dry.

Bottom Line:

Rhinegeist has made a name for itself in the last few years by making some seriously bespoke brews. Their take on traditional Irish stout is a great respite from the usual pints by seemingly taking the style somewhere new (dried fruits and sticky toffee) while still feeling comforting and familiar as a dry stout.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout

O

ABV: 4.3%

Average Price: $7.99 for a 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles

The Beer:

O’Hara’s is yet another brand that proves there’s a lot more to Irish stouts than Guinness. The Carlow, Ireland-based brand’s Irish stout has only been brewed since 1999, but it’s garnered praise and numerous awards over the past two decades.

Tasting Notes:

Take a whiff of this brew and your nostrils will fill with the aromas of freshly brewed coffee, toffee, and dark chocolate. On the sip you’ll be greeted with flavors of toasted vanilla beans, espresso beans, chocolate bark, anise, and a subtle, dry, roasted finish.

Bottom Line:

O’Hara’s is where classic and contemporary meet in the Irish stout world. This Irish craft stays true to the classic flavors while appealing to craft-trained palates with a bit more spice, hops, and bitterness.

Murphy’s Irish Stout

Murphy

ABV: 4%

Average Price: $17.99 for a ten-pack

The Beer:

Another classic, Irish stout, Murphy’s is simple and straightforward in its recipe and flavor. Made with water, malted barley, un-malted barley, hop extract, and made creamy and mellow with the addition of nitrogen, Murphy’s doesn’t need to add anything special or flashy.

It’s perfect just the way it is.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with hints of coffee, caramel, and a nutty sweetness. Unlike many Irish stouts, this creamy, sweet, vanilla, and fresh-brewed espresso-flavored beer has little-to-no bitter taste with notes of almond cookies dipped in that creamy coffee.

Bottom Line:

If you don’t enjoy the lingering bitterness of some of the more well-known Irish stouts, this is a great beer for you. It leans into the creamy mocha coffee nature subtly while still adhering to traditional stout textures and flavors.

Yards Love Stout

Yards

ABV: 5.5%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This nitro stout was brewed with Chocolate, Crystal, and Black malts as well as roasted barley and toasted wheat. It’s all tied together with creamy nitrogen. The result is a highly drinkable, sweet, rich, American-style Irish stout perfect for winter imbibing.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find fragrant aromas of roasted coffee beans, biscuit cookies, and molasses. On the palate, you’ll get notes of milk chocolate, creamy vanilla, espresso, and cereal. It all ends in a warming, subtly bitter finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a very well-rounded stout. It’s the perfect mix of bitter and sweet and is a great accompaniment to open-faced corned beef sandwiches.

North Coast Old No. 38

North Coast

ABV: 5.4%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This pitch-black beer is labeled as a “Dublin Dry Stout.” It was named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine that chugged along between Fort Bragg and Willits, California.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of roasted malts, caramel, vanilla, and a slight bitterness before taking a sip. The palate is filled with the flavors of toasted barley, sweet treacle, and espresso. The finish is slightly bitter and luxuriously silky.

Bottom Line:

A great pick for stout lovers who want to compare an American brew with the Irish standards. The brew is slightly crisper. It’s a better analog to Guinness Foreign Export in that regard with a brisk, choco-malty nature with a slight spice.

Harpoon Irish Stout

Harpoon

ABV: 4.3%

Average Price: Currently draught only

The Beer:

This sessionable dry Irish-style stout is brewed with 2 Row Pale, Caramel, Roasted Barley, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate, and Flaked Barley malts, as well as Apollo and Willamette hops. It’s well-balanced, highly drinkable, and gets a nice creamy mouthfeel from the addition of nitrogen.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is filled with that symphony of roasted malts as well as rich chocolate and sweet vanilla beans. The sip features creamy toffee, bitter coffee, and nutty sweetness. A slightly bitter, hoppy finish closes things out in a way that feels unexpected for the style.

Bottom Line:

Harpoon is located in the heart of Boston, so it should come as no surprise that its Irish stout is robust and rich enough to grapple with a March chill. It’s also created to emulate the Irish classics while adding in an American spin with amped-up flavors across the board.

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