My earliest St. Patrick’s Day memory was in the second grade. Mrs. Kramer handed out green shamrock name tags with an “O’” in front of everyone’s last name. She handed me one that said, “O’Murphy,” and I promptly told her that I didn’t need (or want) an “O’” on my last name because it was already Irish enough. Silly Mrs. Kramer made me a new one.
I’m no longer that precocious little punk kid, but I still do love St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve experienced a few of them, and I’m here to share a few tips.
Don’t wear a light colored shirt.
I’ve woken up on more than one March 18th with a mosaic of Guinness-brown splotches on a ruined white shirt.
You don’t have to go to an “Irish” bar.
Milwaukee has plenty of Irish-themed bars, but they are crazy crowded on St. Patrick’s Day. If you can’t get in the door at Paddy’s Pub or Hooligan’s (one of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day bars) walk across the street to Von Trier.
Make it a local stout day.
If you just can’t drink Guinness all day, but like stouts, you’re in luck because some outstanding options are being brewed right in Wisconsin. Two of the best I’ve had recently are the exceptional Central Waters Peruvian Morning and Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout. Let Central Waters (based in Amherst) bring some Irish cheer.
Despite how it looks, it’s pronounced “Smiddick’s” not “Smith Wicks”.
Avoid “Shift Change”.
There’s that scary time between 3 and 5 p.m. when the first-shift drinkers who started reveling early in the morning have exceeded their limit and weave their way home. Either wait for them to disperse, or get to the bars by noon so you’re in their camp. (Note: First-shifters generally have green lips, walk as if on the deck of a listing ship, smell faintly like whiskey and occasionally you can find them crying excessively).
It’s also St. Bracket's Day.
The NCAA basketball tournament is on all day. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Bring your crumpled-up office pool bracket out with you. (Note: Try to avoid bragging. Limit saying, “I had Creighton in the Sweet 16,” to just one utterance.)
Green beer is never an option.
Remember the Miller Lite Free Rides program means buses are free on St. Patrick’s Day. Use them. Slainte!
Barley Pop of the Week
Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is not to be confused with the standard Guinness. It has extra hops in it, and is just plain better. Its bittersweet mix of chocolate and coffee flavor is creamier, richer and more intricate than the brewery’s regular stout. If you don’t care much for Guinness, try the Foreign Extra Stout. You might change your mind.
Sweet Mullets Brewery and Pub (N58 W39800 Industrial Rd., Oconomowoc) opened on Saturday. Awesome name.
The clever new Tweet-A-Beer uses PayPal to let you buy your Twitter friends a beer. You basically transfer beer money (limited to $5 each time) into the PayPal account of any of your tweeps. They get a tweet announcing your generosity. You just have to trust that they spend it on beer. Social media at its finest.
I need to pick a go-to beer for the NCAA tournament this week. With a name like Hopslam, I think the choice is easy.
Wednesday, March 14: Try Magner’s Irish Cider from 4 to 7 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave, discountliquorinc.com).
Thursday, March 15: Guinness Black Lager, Guinness Draught, Harp and Smithwick’s Red Ale samples from 4 to 7 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee and Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 Barstow St., discountliquorinc.com). Free Guinness stuff with purchase.
Friday, March 16: Point Three Kings Kolsch, Drop Dead Blonde and Whole Hog Barleywine samples from 4 to 7 p.m. at Discount Liquor Milwaukee. Free swag with purchase.
Friday, March 16: McSorley’s Irish Pale Ale and Black Lager tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. at Discount Liquor Waukesha. Free glassware with purchase.
Saturday, March 17: Spend St. Patrick’s Day sipping hop bombs at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St., threecellars.com) at a tasting from 1 to 4 p.m.
One of the highlights of the Wisconsin Restaurant Expo, which runs March 12 through March 14 at the Frontier Airlines Center, is a collaboration between Lakefront Brewery and Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing. The two are joining forces to create Rye Road, a hearty roggenbier, which will be available at the Expo.
A Sad Closing Note
After putting this blog entry together, I began seeing myriad tributes on Twitter to Bomb Shelter owner Greg Landig, after Molly Snyder of OnMilwaukee.com reported that he passed away on Friday. Landig was always helpful and friendly to me--either when I was asking follow-up questions while reviewing his bar in 2008, or trying to get info for this blog a few weeks ago. He was definitely one of the good guys in the Milwaukee bar business.
Green beer photo from Flickr user Misserion