Sitting in an Irish bar in Philadelphia airport, I was struck by the countdown clock to St. Patrick’s Day provided by Guinness. Last Sunday there was 106 days to do, which means today marks the 100-day countdown. Why is this important? We’ll for a start, it’s the first St.Patrick’s Day since the Arthur’s Day brouhaha and it will be interesting if the media roundly criticise the drink culture associated with the celebrations and the unofficial sponsor from St. James’ Gate. Second, the 17 March falls on a Monday so it’ll be a long weekend once more. This affords an opportunity to celebrate the independent beers of Ireland. Is this an opportunity to collectively promote these breweries and the ones that are about to be launched. Is their a piece of the festivities that we can claim as our own. There’s an opportunity to build on the beer festival in the IFSC and the individual celebrations of the specialist beer bars. With a festival that supposedly champions Irishness, we should make a bigger effort to promote the Irish independents to a wider audience. Such efforts could be as little as a type of 1% programme (e.g. buy a craft beer pint for a mate that drinks nothing but macros etc) or it could be something bigger. What that could be I don’t know but there’s an opportunity there that we should take advantage of.
Who knows what the future could bring but given the huge American interest in this holiday, we should aim for a platform to introduce some of the Irish brewing talent to the US. Yes, O’Hara’s and the Porterhouse have made an entry to the US market. I can only imagine what the celebrations would be like in Fraunces Tavern. However, American craft breweries have introduced a number of St. Patrick’s seasonal brews (yes, some of them are green including one produced by Dogfish Head). This could be an opportunity for special collaboration brews, involving breweries at home. Also, perhaps we could also encourage those who refer it to St. Patty’s Day to stop it. We should take inspiration from the Dungarvan-Adnams Stout produced for Wetherspoons this year.
Given the global appeal of St. Patrick’s Day, the potential to make place the Irish craft beer scene in the popular imagination remains untapped.