Well, after the winter we just had, many are looking forward to some warmer weather — or at least feeling warmer. Another year has passed and St. Patrick’s Day is here again.
Tradition celebrates it on Monday, March 17, but, being a Monday and the A.C. Parade being held 1 p.m. Saturday, March 15, the celebrating will commence on that Saturday — OK, probably Friday night — and carry on clear through Monday!
Ri Ra kicks off Tropicana Casino and Resort’s Whiskey Week with their Polar Bear Plunge 9 a.m. Sunday, March 16, and follows that up with $5 Irish whiskeys and music at noon. As I mentioned last column, check out Tropicana.net for whiskey events and specials all week.
As always, Guinness is the most popular of the Irish stouts that seem to get the attention at this time of year. Of course, at only 4.1 percent, you can enjoy this dark brew all day long while also consuming some great Irish cuisine.
The Irish Pub in A.C. is a very popular destination on this weekend, too. After its recent “run-in” with an SUV, it is ready to serve up the best that Ireland has to offer. If you cannot celebrate on March 17, there is always “Bag Day” at the Pub on Tuesday, March 18 The only stipulation is you are required to wear a bag on your head in order to be served.
Dry Irish stout is not for everyone’s taste though. Many people say they don’t like dark beer. Well, dark is nothing but a color. It sometimes reflects in the taste and adds a bit of roastiness but, for the most part, a little bit of chocolate, roasted or black malt, effects the color and not the flavor. If I blindfolded you and gave you a dark beer, you would probably not know it.
Stouts — and porters — of all kinds make their appearance for SPD. You can find milk stouts made with lactose that are sweet, imperial and Russian imperial stouts that are rich and bold, some even add fruit like raspberries or blueberries to add a unique flavor. One popular porter now is Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewing of Maryland made with chocolate and peanut butter — Reeses in a bottle! You can find it at almost all the local outlets. So don’t be afraid of the dark! Give the stouts and porters a taste before you summarily condemn them all to your do-not-drink list.
But St. Patty’s Day doesn’t have to be about dark beers at all. Drink whatever you enjoy if you’re not adventurous. That is what the craft beer revolution is all about — something for everyone’s taste. You have lots of choices and not all will wow you but know that they are there to taste and expand your palate.
Glasstown Brewing in Millville is already expanding to a 1.5barrel system soon and will begin local distribution soon. Great job!
Cape May Brewing is still pumping out great beers and dabbling in different styles. Coming up is Bringing Sexy Bock, a Vienna lager style with a big malt background, Tripel Wreck, a Belgian-style tripel, their biggest at 10 to 11 percent, and a re-release of Sawyer’s Swap Barley Wine in bottles. They have also teamed up with local yoga studios Grace & Glory and Itsell Yoga to offer classes through May. Dates will be April 26 and May 31. Class includes a four sample tasting and tour after class.
I mentioned Pinelands Brewing in Little Egg Harbor last column. He opened to humungous crowds on March 1 and sold out most of his swag and beer. They have worked feverishly to replenish stocks. Be sure to visit Jason and crew noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and support their endeavors.
Of course, tickets are now on sale for the ninth Annual A.C. Beer and Music Fest on April 4 and 5. Sessions are 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $55 online or at Joe Canal’s, $60 at the door. Make sure you get your tickets soon. The best beers and music to be found anywhere will be presented for your pleasure. We are lucky to have one of the largest festivals in the nation right here in A.C. and not one to be missed.
Friday, March 14 — St. Patrick’s Day Beer Dinner, Renault Winery, $55, 609-965-2111
Thursday, March 20 — East Coast Beer Dinner, Iron Room at AC Bottle Co. 7 to 9 p.m., four courses, three beers and a bourbon, Call 609-348-6400 for reservations.
Mark Haynie is a craft-beer expert who lives in Somers Point and travels extensively to find new beers. He is a contributor to the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and is the co-author of the book New Jersey Breweries with Lew Bryson. His column runs every other week.