Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick’s day is known for drinking green beer, way too much Guinness, partying with friends, and singing along to Irish music even though you don’t know the words. We know that we drink copious amounts of alcohol and many pints of green beer on St. Patty’s Day, but have you ever wondered why?
By The Beer Community on Mar. 04, 2022
Did you know St. Patrick’s Day is actually a religious celebration and not just an excuse to get belligerently drunk??! It was a shocker to us too…
Who was Saint Patrick?
Cole’s Notes version: Firstly, Saint Patrick was the patron Saint of Ireland. He was born in Britain when it was ruled by the Romans, sometime in the 5th century. At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish pirates and forced to work as a slave in Ireland. He lived there for six years until he mustered up the courage to try to escape. He snuck off, stowed away on a ship and walked through the forest of Great Britain for 28 days before he found his freedom. Escaping from pirates at the age of 22 seems like a pretty great origin story; and he later became a priest. Then, he went back to Ireland to share his teachings of Christianity, and he left such an impression, that a few hundred years after his death, he was given an official Saint designation — St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is said that he died on March 17th, 461 A.D.
The St. Paddy’s Day Tradition in Ireland
In Ireland there are LOTS of St. Patrick’s Day traditions. These include church services, parades, festivals, and wearing green clothing. Originally, the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue; it changed to green in the 1600s when people began wearing shamrocks (which have three leaves, not four) and green ribbons on St. Patrick’s Day.
Why do people drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day?
Green beer isn’t actually a traditional Irish way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. So why do we drink green beer on St. Paddy’s day!? Well, that has historical relevance too; a not so well-known fact is that they used to call beer that wasn’t fermented long enough, “Green Beer” because it caused stomach issues or as they called it in 1904 “biliousness”.
It is thought that actual green beer got it’s start in the early 1900’s in New York. A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the article, the drink is attributed to Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the green beer effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in his beer.
For the Craft Beer fanatics saying “Green Beer is the WORST!”
Okay okay, we get that you don’t want anyone tainting a flawless, meticulously brewed, work of beer-art. But ask yourself… what in this world isn’t dyed? Your clothes are, your friend’s hair is (and maybe yours too), your food is dyed, you can get dyed flowers, even our skin is dyed (for those of you with tattoos)–People just like colour!
Would you rather spend the month of March grouching about green beer and alienate yourself over something as silly as a little food colouring? Or would you rather celebrate the good times, get on with life, and enjoy your friend’s company while you instead educate them on the value of drinking locally-brewed craft beer?!
Green dye affects flavour – maybe… You might be more concerned with how food coloring affects flavour. We were too, so ran an informal experiment to test if people could blindly taste which beer was dyed vs not. It turns out, in most cases, people were just guessing and food coloring didn’t significantly change the flavour of the beer. You can check out the results of the green beer flavour experiment for yourself; if you recreate this experiment for yourself, let us know how it turns out.
St. Patrick’s Day Tradition in North America
In Western Culture St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by wearing green and drinking a ton of green beer; and hanging out with good friends.
Why? It’s because St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, where there usually are rules against consuming alcohol. These restrictions were lifted for March 17th so people could celebrate. And by celebrate, I mean get wasted because isn’t that what the Irish do best? This is what started the holiday’s tradition of consuming alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day.
And why not?! If you really want to be a grouch about green beer and faux Irish getups, ask your self, “What’s the big deal?”. Most Westernized holidays and celebrations are technically founded on fragmented of truths anyway (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc); the important thing about St. Patty’s day is that it’s a reason to celebrate–celebrate friends, fun, culture, and most importantly of all, BEER!
For the Grammar Police in You:
Is it Spelled Sait “Paddy’s Day” or “Patty’s Day”?
If you thought it’s St. Patty’s day as a contraction of “Patrick”, you’d be wrong. We were surprised too. I turns out the correct spelling is “Paddy’s Day”, with two D’s and some people are extremely passionate about this topic.
Why? “Paddy” comes from the word Pádraig which is an Irish Male name derived from Patricius (meaning “of patrician class”); and that originates from Saint Patrick.
Here at JustBeer we’ll not arrest your for such a wee mistake; but it’s a good tip if you’re one who cares about the little things.
Now get out there and enjoy your green beer this St. Paddy’s day—and don’t forget to give Saint Patrick a cheers while you’re at it!
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