Black Beer Go Bragh: Local Experts on Drinking Irish

Drinking Irish in Maple Grove
Em J. Crothers and Michelle Haeg make St. Paddy's Dat special at Claddagh Irish Pub.

For year-round Irishman and self-proclaimed purist John Farrell III of Haskell’s Maple Grove, tradition is spelled with a capital G and tastes a wee bit like scalded coffee. Although your wardrobe might be all green for the occasion, your pint should be all black. When you want to toast Ireland’s cultural heritage, you can’t do better than to raise a glass of Guinness. For the same rich hue and creamy head with a touch less bitterness, Farrell recommends Murphy’s Irish Stout. And if you need to save room for corned beef and soda bread, try Wexford Irish Cream Ale, Harp Irish Lager or Smithwick’s Red Ale.

Whether you’re Irish 365 days a year or just the one, Claddagh Irish Pub provides the quintessential venue for your St. Patty’s Day quaffing. “No green beer or gimmicks here,” says Claddagh manager Mike Christenson, whose Irish tricolour knows no season. The sizeable bar-restaurant is spangled with sports paraphernalia, antique beer and whiskey ads, and Gaelic proverbs. Their selection of 36 draft beers pays homage to Erin just as well as the authentic décor. Alongside Irish staples like Smithwick’s and Guinness, one can find Finnegan’s Irish Amber, a Minneapolis-based draft that is 100 percent non-profit, with all proceeds supporting the company’s campaign against hunger.

Rich as it is in beer culture, Ireland is poorer in wine culture. But don’t dismay—at Claddagh, non-beer drinkers can enjoy Magner’s Irish Cider and Pear Cider, imported from County Tipperary. Farrell suggests Perseverance Lodi wine, on the shelves at Haskell’s. The label features a Celtic Cross, and we say if you can paint your face green and call yourself a Leprechaun, you can certainly pass off a California Zin as an Irish wine. It also happens to pair well with lamb stew, says our expert.