St. Patrick’s Day looms large in the beer world and American culture overall thanks in large part to Guinness, whose aggressive marketing around the holiday for decades has capitalized on Irish-American nostalgia. Many Irish-Americans view the holiday as a time to reflect on their heritage while drinking pints of Guinness, eating Irish food, wearing green, and listening to Celtic music. Then there’s the green beer, but we won’t talk about that…
We sat down to talk with Sam Tierney, head brewer at our Propagator R&D brewhouse in Venice to learn more about what’s he’s brewing for St. Patrick’s Day.
Firestone Walker is known for making several English-style beers, including our flagship Double Barrel Ale, as well as Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. Merlin is styled after the traditional sweet stouts of England which are characteristically full-bodied and sweet in profile. Irish stouts like Guinness, Beamish, and Murphy’s are in contrast much lighter-bodied and drier in flavor than their English cousins, usually brewed with just pale malt and roasted barley, omitting the lactose and oats often added to English stouts to promote fullness and sweetness.
For St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to cross the Irish Channel (metaphorically speaking) and reach back into the past to find a historical recipe brewed in Dublin in 1883 on which to base our own take on an Irish stout. The resulting beer, brewed at our Propagator R&D Brewhouse in Venice, is Kestrel Irish Stout, named after the species of falcon which is a cousin of the Merlin.
Brewed with pale ale and amber malts in addition to roasted barley, Kestrel has a richer malt profile than modern Irish stouts, with abundant toasty and coffee-like flavors. It is hopped with Sovereign hops from the UK, which give a subtle floral, herbal, and earthy flavor. The resulting beer will be familiar to fans of Irish stouts but displays a more gregarious character and will be instantly agreeable to fans of more aggressive American-style stouts as well.
Kestrel is available exclusively at Firestone Walker Taproom locations starting this Wednesday on draft and available to take home in both growlers and crowlers for your own St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Whether you have Irish heritage or are just a fan of a tasty stout, it’s all good, because on St. Patrick’s day, we’re all Irish, aren’t we?