Friday, March 1, 2013

Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day Beers and How to Make Green Keg Beer

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and the Irish in me is thirsty in anticipation.  The pubs, the pals, the beers and belly laughs will soon be here.  And here at Rapids Wholesale, we want to make sure your bar is ready for the rush.  There are a few “must have” items that you gotta have in stock to appease the masses of green clad Irish and “one-day honorary Irish” that make it through your door.  Like me, they’re going to be thirsty!

Thirsty for BEER, and lots of it.  So get with your distributors to make sure you’ll have an ample supply.  Just to put things in perspective, Guinness reported selling 3.5 billion pints on St Patty’s day in 2011.  A normal day for them is around 600,000 pints.  So stock up heavy on beer and make sure you’re smart about your selection.

Guinness may be my personal favorite “readily available” Irish beer of all time, but they certainly are not the only player on St. Patrick’s Day.  As the craft beer movement continues to flourish, our tastes are maturing, and you may find yourself in front of a more “selective” crowd.

Since we already mentioned Guinness, let's continue with the stouts.  Other well known Irish stouts you may want to stock include Murphy’s, Beamish, and Mackeson’s.  And there are a ton of craft stouts that are worthwhile, too.  Although they may not immediately conjure images of the Eire, a couple of my personal favorite stouts would be Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout, anything from Founder’s, Bell’s Black Note, Old Rasputin Imperial, and luckily local to me, Millstream’s Back Road Oatmeal Stout.

Be sure to serve your stouts in the proper glass.  I prefer an English pub glass, but if you put it in an American Shaker pint, I’m not gonna turn it down! Ha!  And remember, if you’re getting a keg of Guinness for your home bar, they take different plumbing as well.  You need to get the right keg coupler and faucet.

For Irish Lager’s I would serve Harp.  As for Irish Ales and Red Ales, again there are a ton to choose from. Safe bets would include Smithwick’s, Samuel Adams Irish Red, Boulevard Irish Ale, Kilkenny Irish Creme Ale, and George Killian’s.  Sure there may be better tasting and better reviewed brews out there, but these should be safe to move timely and have more of a universal appeal.  To get an idea for what’s hot and what’s not in the beer world, I would strongly advise folks to check out They’ve never let me down!

And then, of course . . . there is the green beer, ugh!  I know, I know, most of you are cringing at the thought of it, but we have to face reality.  Lots of folks like to drink green beer on St. Patrick’s day.  I’m not sure why, and I don’t know where this silly tradition came from, but here we are.  And if we ignore it, we may lose out on some extra St. Patrick’s Day green (in the till that is).

So suck it up and order a keg or 5 of a green dyed domestic light pilsner from your distributor.  A marketing trick and general maintenance tip would be to use a separate portable beer dispenser or kegerator for your green beer.  That way your staff will obviously know which beer is dyed.  Your regular customers, and those with perhaps a more refined palete, will see that their selection and service isn’t being compromised by a passing fad.  To them you won’t lose face, and you won’t miss out on any beer sales.  And as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about cleaning your long draw lines the next day.  Try plastering your portable dispenser with advertising.  Set up a separate beer line and till away from your main bar to ensure nobody is left waiting with an empty pint.  Then compare your numbers to last year!

portable beer dispenser or kegerator

Don’t panic if you forgot to order “green kegs” from your distributor.  It really isn’t that hard to make beer green.  It’s pretty obvious that a drop of green dye in a pint glass will turn a lighter colored brew green.  But in a busy bar or club, that is simply not an option, right?  Logic tells us if we can get the food coloring “inside” the keg we can pour it green per normal.  So how do you do that?  I’ve heard of some people putting the dye on the keg ball as they tap it.  Should work, but how many of you trust your staff to pull that off without green spray completely covering your walk-in cooler in the process?  I can just see it plastering all your bottles and backstock with sticky green goo.  It’s like ectoplasm from the Ghost Busters movie in my head!

Here’s a trick that should work to inject the food coloring into your keg.

Somewhere in a drawer in the backroom you have a picnic pump.  If you don’t have one, you can get one here.  Grab that thing and PUMP the the dye into the keg without making a mess.  Check out this video to see how I think you should be able to pull this off.

WARNING: DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK!!  Personally, I’ve never tried it, and am unsure of the actual results.  I drink Guinness.

It should work because the dye along with the air will be injected into the keg.  It shouldn’t be messy because the system is essentially sealed and the check valve in the picnic pump will keep it inside.  The amount of dye to use will be dependent on a handful of things.  Is your keg full?  How dark is the beer?  Obviously light pilsners work best for this.  You don’t have to leave the picnic pump attached once you’ve pumped the dye into the keg.  I would let it sit for awhile to properly mix in.  Hook it up to your keg dispenser and serve!

So there ya go, once again Rapids Wholesale saves the day!  Check back soon for tips on what Irish Whiskey and drinks to stock up on and tips on how to prevent a glass explosion with your next Irish Carbomb.



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