St. Patrick’s Day Cerebrations

St. Patrick’s Day in gastronomic terms evokes, at least on this side of the Atlantic, two thoughts: stout and corned beef.

The stout, more technically the top-fermented, black beer type known as porter, originated in early 1700s London. In modern days stout has become associated with Guinness-of-the-creamy pint from Dublin, but the multiform revival of porter and stout by craft brewing has created a new quarter in beer town.

Our Town, to initiates.

On the corned beef side, a series of circles takes notice of its connections, real or illusory, to St. Patrick’s. There is a broad, popular group that associates the dish with the holiday per se. A smaller circle, preserve of the food commentariat, tends to view the dish as faux-Irish, deploying arguments of varying type and persuasiveness.

A third, much smaller circle, tends to side with popular opinion: corned beef has much of Hibernia in it. In my 2016 post Corned Beef – Ersatz Irish? I reviewed the various arguments, and plumped for a circle #3 view of the question.

So what does all this mean, with war in Ukraine a daily preoccupation and halting steps taken to escape the Covidian miasma of the last two years? Not a great deal I suppose, but life must go on, and gastronomy’s questions can still interest some, nay provide a kind of diversion.

To drink a peg of porter today, countless beer bars and brewery taps in town provide many options. I may hie over to the Granite, a craft stalwart here, and see what they have.

Meanwhile though I have fashioned my own porter, and a finer drop ne’er laved the lips of the Irish, imo. I didn’t brew it – I have never brewed at home – rather I combined different beers to create a new one.

The beers resulted from a tasting I held recently, you see elements arrayed but two are not pictured: Great Lakes Premium Lager and Helliwell Old Ale.




I had left over half the tall bottle shown, Creemore Imperial Stout.

To that I added about equal measures of Amsterdam Brewery’s Crumpet’s Pub Ale (Toronto), Spearhead Golden Ale (Kingston, Ontario), Tynt Meadow Trappist Ale (England), and the Great Lakes and Helliwell beers.

(The Spearhead Collider Fusion shown, an American IPA, was not opened and went home with one of the tasters).

The Creemore Imperial Stout is a mild interpretation of the style – rather too mild for me, in fact. Adding the others filled it out yet preserved a stout colour and roasty flavour. Further, the other beers except the lager were brewed with all or a large percentage of English ingredients.

Blending them with Creemore Imperial Stout, itself an English take on the style, produced a hyper-English-tasting, or old Irish if you will, double stout. I’d think about 6.5-7% ABV.

So that is my St. Patrick’s tipple, but I may tip more if tarrying later in a Toronto tap.

The amalgam mentioned:



N.B. All beers tabled greatly impressed the panel. Steve called the Great Lakes Premium Lager – you see some poured in image #1 – rich and creamy. All admired too the Amsterdam and Spearhead beers, particularly their trad English qualities.

Especial plaudits went to the plush English Trappist Ale – a recent entrant in the rarified Trappist beer ranks – and Helliwell Old Ale, a collaboration of beer writer Jordan St. John and Muddy York Brewing in Toronto.

Steve thought the Helliwell a “rustic” version of the Tynt Meadow, which, when you think of it, actually makes sense.*

*Helliwell is a recreation of an 1820s Canadian recipe. The Tynt Meadow is a modern recipe, but seeking to evoke the good strong ale brewed by cloistered clerics in Albion centuries ago.



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