Why We Drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

Even if you’re the kind of person who scorns tasteless green beer, you might enjoy a Guinness for Saint Patrick’s Day. And why not? Unlike shamrock pins and wild partying sure to take place on March 17th, Guinness drinking really is a longstanding tradition in Ireland, as well as the Irish diaspora. But it’s a folk tradition that’s inextricably tied up with almost a century of commercial advertising, according to Brenda Murphy, a gender studies professor at the University of Malta.

I am sure that Brenda Murphy must have conducted extensive on-site research on this topic! You can read her findings in the Jstor.org web site at: https://daily.jstor.org/why-we-drink-guinness-on-st-patricks-day.

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Talking with a local brew master at a New England pub recently, the conversation got around to “black beer,” that is stout and porter. I live in an area heavily populated by Irish immigrants in the 19th century (I’m descended from several of them who settled locally). The brew master agreed with me that in, say, 1910 or so, all the local pubs and bars would have featured mainly stouts served at (low) room temperature; their customers knew what good beer should taste like. And those stouts were typically low in alcohol content, something in the 4.5% to 5% range. Today — and thanks to truly massive advertising — people prefer IPAs, lighter and more lemon-like beers, relatively high octane when it comes to alcohol, that absolutely demand to be served ice cold. (IMHO, that is because they are truly wretched, ghastly drinks filled with alcohol. More than the taste, it’s the buzz the customers seek.) Oh, and Guinness isn’t the only stout around but, when I drink it, I prefer Guinness Original formula (bottled) to the stuff in the cans.

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Your readers need to be further reassured that Guinness can be, and is, drunk with great pleasure on every other day of the year!

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