March is a month when the luck of the Irish is bestowed upon us all – leprechauns parade around merrily and lead us to where we’ll find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, four leaf clovers are a commodity and green beer makes its glorious return. I include green beer in this wonderful world of Irish fantasy because for a long time I believed it was true. I believed that this mystical emerald ale hailed from Ireland as I was told when I first experienced it in my 20s at The Dubliner in Washington, D.C. It didn’t taste particularly like anything unique, but I’d drink it like an extremely rare bottle or cask of craft beer. I forgot all about it until my return to Syracuse, where there’s a yearly parade in February dedicated to this magical concoction. A ceremonious affair that attracts throngs of well-wishers to this beer is blessed by St. Patrick himself and serenaded by bagpipers. Imagine my disappointment upon hearing that it wasn’t from the green hills of Ireland but a golden place – Golden, Colorado that is. My brains blown, I immediately felt the sadness of my youth when I found out the truth about Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy. I mean I knew it was a light lager upon tasting it, I just didn’t know it was Coors Light mixed with food coloring. Still, for whatever reason, I had to partake in the falsehood and enjoy the moment, so I did what everyone else around me was doing – I bought a pitcher with the Coors Light logo on it and it was all starting to make sense. I felt duped but also felt a duty to hold up the green lie that I once thought of as wondrous and take pictures with my friends. Smile for the camera!
When myth meets truth, disappointments are bound to occur. Take for instance, the beer disguised as “craft” but really owned and operated by the mighty macro breweries. If you just take a closer look at your bottles and cans, a ray of light will shine through to reveal the truth. Look even closer at some of your favorite foreign selections and you’ll also see the ever-prevalent mergers and acquisitions that have been taking place everywhere. Killian’s Red was originally a beer brewed in Ireland and now made in the U.S.A. with the same Irish recipe. Think that Brooklyn beer was Brooklyn made? While some are and they are expanding their enterprise in Brooklyn proper, many of their products are made and bottled in Utica, N.Y. It’s not unusual for larger city breweries to contract out to other breweries in smaller towns. It’s all about what’s economical – building space is more expensive and scarcer in big cities to brew everything, so they contract out. While that may not be a huge disappointment or lie to the beer drinking public (it’s no secret), to me it does take a little bit of authenticity away from what we’re drinking. I want to know where my beer comes from, water source included. Call me a beer geek but I like to know these details. I don’t care about are commercials where macros make fun of micros. What I do care about is authenticity, which brings me back to the green beer. Now that I know the truth, will I ever drink it again? Just as we all like taking pictures with Mickey Mouse at Disney knowing full well there’s a person in there, I’ll take pictures with my fake green beer and a real smile to celebrate with my friends and loved ones the wonder of all these myths that make our world a better place. Sláinte!
You can also read this piece in the March issue of Table Hopping.