So when, exactly, did St. Patrick's Day turn into a month long party? It is a day, correct? The Feast Day of St. Patrick, according to most Christian calendars... which happens to be a holy day of obligation in Ireland, where he serves (posthumously, of course) as their patron saint. And in more recent years, this has become a legitimate drinking holiday to celebrate all things Irish... the most Irish of which is, naturally, drinking itself.
But enough with the history/theology lesson. I'm trying to figure out why there have been St. Patrick's Day block parties, bar crawls, parades, etc. the past 2 or 3 weeks leading up to the actual date!? I understand the need when St Paddy's is on a weekday... nobody prefers taking a vacation day to consume massive quantities of beer and whiskey... but the Saturday St. Patrick's Day should be like the Ark of the Covenant of celebrations: highly desirable yet hard to find, and if you don't know what you're dealing with you may end up melting your face off...
Look, all I'm saying is, people tend to overdo these things. Why couldn't we have had bar crawls in Fed Hill and Fells Point, specials at Irish pubs across the city, a nice St. Paddy's Day parade and 5K run, and a giant block party in Canton, ALL this Saturday? It would be an ordeal, but I feel that if we can handle ONE Thanksgiving, ONE New Year's Eve, and ONE Arbor Day, then we can deal with ONE day to get this party right!
OK, so maybe I'm suffering from green-tinted Grinch-itude, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to enjoy myself this March 17th. And even if you've had enough of the ginormous throngs of emerald-clad psuedo-Irish drunks and their neverending stream of Guinness-and-Jameson-flavored puke, there are still many ways to celebrate... and many St. Paddy's-worthy beverages in which to partake, thanks to our awesome Maryland breweries. Try to get your hands on a few of these local beers this Saturday and let the amateurs drink all the Guinness*:
- Flying Dog - Lucky SOB
An Irish Red brewed with hand-picked 4-leaf clovers? Can't get much more St. Paddy's than that! Look for it at your local craft beer bars, like Max's, Metropolitan, No Idea, Frisco, and more! And if you're really lucky, you bought tickets to the Green Eggs and Kegs event at the brewery in Frederick on Saturday (cuz it's sold out!). Kicks off at 7am!
- Heavy Seas - Loose Cannon w/ Jameson-soaked wood chips
This is an interesting one, as it will only be available (cask conditioned!) in a few limited places. Look for it at the Heavy Seas Ale House and at the brewery for tours on Saturday. Oh, and at T-Bonz in Ellicott City, they will be serving a special cask of this as well... with Lucky Charms added! I can't think of a much better way to get your day started!
- DuClaw - Celtic Fury
Here we have your Guinness substitute. This bad boy is an Irish Stout with all the blackness you expect. It even has that dry stout finish, but with a little more roasty/coffee flavor and one hell of a body. Definitely an excellent (and delicious) alternative to the traditional St. Paddy's brew.
- Oliver Breweries - Irish Red
Snag a seat at the Pratt Street Ale House or The Wharf Rat and treat yourself to an Irish Red from Oliver Breweries. You won't find it in bottles, but the good St. Patrick won't mind if you leave the house for a bit. And this is a tasty brew he'd probably sit down and enjoy with you. Assuming you're buying, of course... a Saint he may be, but he's probably a little short on the modern currency...
So don't worry if you can't make the rowdiness on O'Donnell Square in Canton... or the outdoor festival at Field House... or the $.01 (that's right... 1 CENT) Guinness from 6-8am at Brewer's Cask in Fed Hill... or if you just don't care to fight the crowds at James Joyce or Mick O'Shea's, your local Maryland breweries still have you covered.
Either way, I know you're going to drink, so maybe you should try the good stuff. Am I right? Of course I am... and I'm not even Irish.
Drink well, and slainte, my friends!
*To be fair, Guinness is a fine beverage, of which I have partaken quite heftily. No offense to the official beer of Ireland intended!