Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patty's Day Libations

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Not everyone can be Irish—it has even been said that not everyone wants to be, though that seems unlikely. But tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17 we all get a chance to wear the green and hoist a pint of the brown, “for the comfort that’s in it.” Corned beef, potatoes and cabbage may not be the most esoteric dish, but pair it with a glass of Guinness and you’ve got a sublimely satisfying meal.

Back in the 1750s, Arthur Guinness parlayed a 100-pound inheritance from his godfather into the beginnings of a brewing dynasty. In 1759, he signed a 9,000-year lease on the Dublin brewery that would bear his name and produce the beverage that is synonymous with Irish stout. The draught style stout in a can, with its nitrogen releasing widget, is about as close to a pub pour as you can get. Pour it into a glass, and you get that swirling pint of foam that dissolves from the bottom up. The result is a dark stout showing a bit of ruby around the edges, with a thick, light coffee-colored head and creamy flavors that remind one of a Cafe Americano.

Murphy’s Draught Style Stout has a history that goes back a mere 150 years, making it the new kid on the block, but it’s a worthy contender to Guinness. Darker in color, with flavors of mocha and caramel, this extravagantly rich brew has a toasty touch of smoke and a long chocolaty finish. Both stouts are smooth and creamy and silky in the mouth.

Since you can enjoy all these brews from the comfort of your home, you may not need a designated driver. But if you are venturing out on St. Paddy’s Day, Guinness offers their Kaliber, a non-alcohol lager. It’s a light and toasty brew with a soft malt profile that will should remind you of the real thing. At least it goes a lot better with corned beef and cabbage than a cola.

And when it comes to the corned beef, I like to splurge a bit. Idaho's own Snake River Farms is famous for their American Kobe beef and Kurobuta Hams. They make a tender corned beef brisket that is about as good as it gets. At seven bucks a pound it's expensive, but worth it. I like to boil mine until it's almost done, then finish it in the oven for the last half hour or so. That way, the top fat layer melts down a bit and turns a little crispy. Make sure you include a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan so the meat doesn't dry out.

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