We're not completely sure when or why dyeing beer green became an accepted St. Patrick's Day tradition in the U.S., but we do know that one of our staffers, who is also a part-time bartender and full-time beer enthusiast, is seriously not OK with it. Here's why.
We are mere hours away from a holiday that promises more drunken shenanigans than any rose ceremony The Bachelorette has ever seen. I’m talking, of course, about St. Patrick’s Day—that day in March when we celebrate the guy who allegedly drove all the snakes from Ireland by pinching one another for wearing the wrong color and consuming the GDP-equivalent of Greenland in Jameson shots chased with beer. And, as is tradition, the beer we’ll be drinking too much of will be green. Well, as a bartender who works at a brewery and has lived in Ireland, I’m here to give you four reasons why green beer is the worst.
1. What’s even the point? There isn’t one.
I’m not here to be the Eeyore of holidays, but what’s the point of green beer, really? I dye eggs at Easter, but I don’t get upset if I go to a pub on Easter and they don’t serve me up a pastel PBR. I don’t get irate if I order eggnog at Christmas and it’s not red and green (nor, I believe, has any human in history). And I have never jumped down the throat of a bartender that failed to serve me a red, white, and blue-colored beverage on that most sacred of summer festivities, the Fourth of July. So why should I care if my beer is green on St. Patrick’s Day? What’s the point? I don’t think the basis of any holiday is to celebrate our ability to ingest things that look like we shouldn’t. Pro tip: If you drink enough beer, it will get you drunk regardless of coloration.
2. It’s a waste of time and money.
Now, granted I just pour the beer, I don’t brew it, but alluding to my first point: How many people do you know clamor to drink green beer on any day other than St. Patty’s? [SPOILER ALERT:] Zero. That reason alone makes dying mass quantities of beer a crapshoot of sorts financially. What does the bar/brewery shilling the booze do with an excess amount of green beer once patrons have exhausted all of their Irish holiday craic? I’d wager they take a loss. No one goes to sleep blackout drunk on St. Patty’s Day and wakes up the following morning hankering for another pint glass of cold, green regret. If you’re throwing dye into the brewing process, that also means taking away from the production of normal product, so you’re banking on selling all the green stuff and taking a loss if you don’t—not to mention now you have to thoroughly clean all the food dye from your equipment, cause that stuff is gross (see #3). So folks making green beer can lose time and money doing it, which is one of the reasons I believe the brewery I bartend for had a creative workaround last year: We used branded cups that turned green when filled with cold beer.
3. Food coloring is gross.
It’s all made from chemicals (except for the colors made from crushed bugs). You know what else is made from chemicals? Crack. Do with that information what you will… But seriously, some people can have allergic sensitivities to the stuff, and I’ve read articles about food coloring ranging from topics like “it’s made from petroleum byproducts” to “it causes hyperactivity in kids.” Nothing conclusive has come out from the FDA saying that food dye consumption is harmful in small doses, but there are enough question marks to give pause.
4. They’re not doing it in Ireland.
I was fortunate enough to live in Northern Ireland for half a year and visit Ireland-proper, and even more fortunate to be there during St. Patrick’s Day. And guess what they don’t drink for the occasion? Hint: It’s green, and it’s got beer in it. The Irish love their Guinness, and rightfully so—it’s exponentially more delicious on that side of the pond. And do you know what happens when you put green food coloring in Guinness? If you said, “It stays black,” you win a regular-colored beer from me! But seriously, they don’t color their brews, so why do we?
All this being said, Irish you all a happy and festive St. Patrick’s Day, filled with all the festivity and normal-colored beer you can handle. Cheers!