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Beer Guzzler

St. Patrick's Day

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Not everyone can be Irish—it has even been said that not everyone wants to be, though that seems unlikely. But on March 17, we all get a chance to wear the green and hoist a pint of the brown, "for the comfort that's in it." Corned beef and cabbage may not be the most esoteric dish, but pair it with a glass of Guinness and you've got a sublimely satisfying meal. Back in the 1750s, Arthur Guinness parlayed a 100-pound inheritance from his godfather into the beginnings of a brewing dynasty. In 1759 he signed a 9,000-year lease on the Dublin brewery that would bear his name and produce the beverage that is synonymous with Irish stout.

Of course the Guinness you buy in the bottle is a far cry from that rich and creamy pint they pour in a pub. That's where the widget comes in. Introduced in 1988, this ingenious device releases a stream of gas into the brew. Pour it into a glass, and you get that swirling pint of foam that dissolves from the bottom up. The result is as close to a draught pour as you can get—a dark stout showing a bit of ruby around the edges, with a thick, light coffee-colored head and creamy flavors that remind one of a Cafe Americano. The finish is a little light but very clean.

Murphy's Draught Style Stout has a history that goes back a mere 150 years, making it the new kid on the block, but it's a worthy contender to Guinness. Darker in color with flavors of mocha and caramel, this extravagantly rich brew has a toasty touch of smoke and a long chocolaty finish. Both stouts are smooth and creamy with a silky texture in the mouth, but if you find them a bit overwhelming, you might try a Wexford Irish Cream Ale. Much lighter in color and body than its stout cousin, Wexford employs the same draught flow widget to produce a golden hued brew with a lovely head of thick foam and subtle flavors of sweet cream, toffee and vanilla.

Since you can enjoy all these brews from the comfort of your home, you may not need a designated driver. But if you are venturing out on St. Paddy's Day, Guinness offers Kaliber, a non-alcohol lager. It's a light and toasty brew with a soft malt profile that will should remind you of the real thing. At least it goes a lot better with corned beef and cabbage than a cola.