Our favorite Irish holiday is right around the corner, and it should be celebrated with corned beef and cabbage paired with a Guinness, right? Well, that's one way to do it. But you could also change up the celebration for once and try something new — there's more than one way to celebrate a holiday. Of course, St. Patrick's Day is a unique exception, as it's often considered a heavy-drinking holiday. So the secret to choosing your poison for the day is looking for an option that is both delicious but somewhat low in alcohol. It's key to stick with what we call "session beers" that are around 5 percent — and definitely no higher than 6 percent if you'll be drinking a lot during the day. (Or you better be rotating in a glass of water between each pint — actually, that's a good idea either way.) We have five solid recommendations that would be a great complement to your St. Patrick's Day festivities:
Celtic Red, 5.4 percent
Harpoon Brewery, Boston
Brewed by the Boston-based brewery since 2000, this red ale delivers a flavorful and malt-balanced brew. Harpoon makes this beer each spring to coincide with the Irish holiday. With its sessionable alcohol level and its malty and sweet flavor, this is a beer that can be enjoyed all day long on St. Patrick's Day.
Irish Red Ale, 5.8 percent
Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Mo.
The label is inspired by Celtic-style designs and the beer is inspired by those classic Irish-style red ales. Brewed with six varieties of barley malts, this beer features a rich and roasted quality and a reddish hue. The brewery calls this their "Midwestern tribute" to the the classic style and it certainly earns the title.
O'Reilly's Irish Stout, 3.6 percent
SlyFox Brewing Company, Phoenixville, Pa.
Available on draft year-round, this dry Irish-style stout is often found on a nitro tap. Nitrogen is used in the carbonation process to deliver a creamy pour. This process was popularized by Guinness — a brewery famous for their stout. The Sly Fox version is made with an array of hops, pours a dark black, and is surprisingly light-bodied but has a coffee-like, roasty flavor.
Rubicon Brewing Company, Sacramento, Calif.
This Great American Beer Festival bronze medal-winner is another great example of an Irish-style stout. Served on draft (again with the nitrogen carbonation process), this beer pours a dark black and has a creamy, medium-bodied characteristic to it. To try this beer, you'll have to take a trip to the Sacramento brewery — or get a friend to pick you up a growler.
Oatmeal Stout, 4.95 percent
Breckenridge Brewery, Denver, Colo.
A smooth brew with essences of coffee and chocolate, this beer is made with caramel and chocolate malts and roasted barley as well as two types of hops. The flavor features a sweetness that is well balanced by the slight hop bitterness. While not your classic Irish style, this stout is delicious and would be a good companion to many Irish dishes.
Session Black Lager, 5.4 percent
Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, Ore.
It even has "session" in the name! And it may not be a classic Irish-style beer but it's a fantastic option for a drinking holiday like St. Patrick's Day. Plus, it's got that dark hue so you can just tell people you're drinking a stout while you sip this drinkable and roasty, chocolaty beer.