Today is the Irish national holiday, which for some reason or other is inextricably linked with alcohol consumption. So as not to disturb the stereotype, I thought I’d give a quick run-down of the options available here for anyone who wants a genuine Irish beer experience–no green beer here!
An English invention that lost popularity there with the rise of lager, but remains a favourite in Ireland, stout is seen as the quintessential Irish drink.
Alko stocks two Irish options: you can have a can of Guinness, or you can have four cans of Guinness. Don’t ya just love monopolies?
In bars, Guinness is often available; if not, then there’s usually a few cans of Murphy’s Stout in the fridge–and this might be a better option than draught Guinness, which famously “doesn’t travel well.” A good pint of Guinness is a wonderful thing, but I’ve never found one outside of Ireland.
Supermarkets might offer a little more variety. On the shelves of Stockmann (at least in Helsinki) can be found an excellent stout from O’Hara’s, one of the larger independent brewers in Ireland. It’s richer and more flavourful than either Guinness or Murphy’s, while remaining distinctly Irish-style. Try it.
Irish pubs often also serve Kilkenny, which is supposedly a cream ale, but tastes more like water than anything else.
Back to the supermarkets then: if you have an M-Kauppa nearby, you might find Galway Hooker, an “Irish Pale Ale” microbrewed (is that a word?) in the west of Ireland since 2006, ie. before the US-led IPA boom, so it’s not a hop bomb, but it is a pretty good ale. It can also be found, at a ridiculous price, in Kamppi K-Market in Helsinki. (By the way, a Galway hooker is a traditional kind of boat, so stop laughing.)
O’Hara’s also has something to offer here. Their Irish Red ale is available in Stockmann, or was the last time I checked. A good red ale is crisp and has a little biscuity sweetness to balance its bitterness; this one fits the bill.
That’s everything, as far as I’m aware. There’s been an explosion of craft breweries in Ireland in the last few years, but nothing has reached these shores apart from the above. They’re worth seeking out though.
Did I miss anything? Let me know..