Murphy's Stout for the long haul
St. Patrick's Day seems to be a problem for many people. Well, it's become a problem for me anyway. On that day, I can't seem to stand at a bar more than five minutes without some stumbling amateur falling into me, sloshing my drink and soaking me with theirs. Otherwise fairly normal people, albeit dressed in garish and silly clothing, take to whooping and hollering for no apparent reason, morning, noon and night. Almost all bar conversations devolve into slurred professions of either undying love or spluttering demands to step outside. It's Saturday night with all the good bits removed. What is the perfect beverage for this happy and festive occasion? Murphy's Stout works on just about every level.
On this, of all days, something mistakenly Irish is actually most appropriate. Sure, there's always the ubiquitous black stuff that everyone else will be having, but that may be a tad too genuine. Guinness is fine, but save that for all the other days of the year. Murphy's looks the part of a popular Irish beer, even though it's not made in Cork anymore. It's black with a tan head -- what else do you want? It might be a tad creamier than its more famous cousin, but you'd be hard pressed to spot a difference between the two by sight alone. So, like the rest of the revelers, it will easily pass for Irish just this once. Even if it is now made in, well, England. Birthplace of St. Patrick himself.
Since this is a day when the beer starts flowing early, then pours non-stop, something soft and light is required. Many people confuse common dry stouts with the much stronger and heavier imperial stouts. A ridiculous mistake. Murphy's ticks in at just 4 percent alcohol, and Guinness is usually just a notch higher. That makes a 4.7 percent Budweiser almost robust in comparison. Appearances can be deceiving. Don't be scared of the rich, black look -- Murphy's is a perfectly tame and less filling option for a long day of drinking.
Another important factor is the flavor. If you're going to be having one after another, you won't want any complicated or harsh flavors getting in the way of things. This isn't a day for complexity, you just need something to pleasantly get the job done. Murphy's stout is as smooth as chocolate milk, with even less hop bitterness than Guinness. There is just the softest reminder of the roasted barley and only enough hops to dry the mouth after the swallow and keep you wanting more. These are swigging beers made for endless nights in the pub. It'll wash down the corned beef sandwich well enough when you remember that you should eat something, but this is one for the long haul.
There are more flavorful and interesting beers than Murphy's stout, and on most every other day of the year, I'd encourage everyone to sample those. It might just be out of habit, but even when I want a nice, gentle stout, it's Guinness that I reach for. I prefer that little bit of bitterness from that old stand-by. Since the great Beamish (the only stout brewed exclusively in Ireland) isn't available in America these days, Murphy's will stand in just fine as an alternative. On that one special day of the year when we're all up at dawn, having the first few beers of the day on the way to the parade. The time we join the party and wander from one Irish pub to the next all day long. When even the meekest are toasting and singing and shouting above the bleating bagpipes until they're hoarse. On the day we simply must down beer after beer until we just can't stand any more. Or any longer. Murphy's is the ideal St. Patrick's Day beverage for all that. Irish enough for all but the most particular. The low alcohol and very soft, smooth taste makes it a perfect beer for an extended session. Don't worry, you'll still want to do the whooping, sloshing and slurring if that's what you look forward to on the day. But with Murphy's, you'll at least make it a little further into the night.