If last week’s crop of clover-themed goodies didn’t tip you off to the fact that St Patrick’s Day is once again upon us, then we’d better try harder. I think it’s time to break out the Guinness and raise a glass to Ireland’s favourite patron saint. I’m sure that some of the four-and-a-half million residents of Ireland who have made it their country’s best-selling alcoholic beverage will join me…in exactly 119.53 seconds. I don’t mean to split hairs, but according to the company itself, that is the precise time that it takes to pour the “perfect pint”.
Guinness was started in Ireland by (not surprisingly) Arthur Guinness in 1759, although it was 10 years before he decided to share his beer with the rest of the world with a modest 6 barrel shipment to England. These days, in addition to its enduring success in Ireland, Guinness is one of the most-popular international brands and is brewed under license in 50 countries using unfermented Dublin-made wort. I was impressed to hear that over 1.8 billion pints of Guinness are sold annually in over 100 countries around the world. On St Patrick’s Day, however, everyone is Irish. Or, so it would seem.
In the 1920s, Guinness began to market their product with the tag-line “Guinness is good for you!” At the time, the claims were made based on testimonials from customers who felt better after having a pint or two. Eventually, the company dropped the health-claims, but recently there has been some research that suggests that the antioxidants in the almost-black brew can prevent arterial cholesterol deposits in the heart. Additionally, despite its hearty appearance and smooth, rich flavour, those of us watching what we eat will be happy to hear that a pint of Guinness contains around 150 calories. Sad news for Vegans and strict vegetarians, though; Guinness is technically a non-vegan product due to the use of fish finings in the filtering process.
The distinctive taste of Guinness, incidentally, comes from barley which is roasted in a method similar to coffee beans. The other ingredients are simply water, hops and yeast, with nitrogen added to the finished product to give the draught version its iconic creamy, white head. If you’re lucky, like I am when I visit my favourite pub, your bartender will carve a little shamrock in the dense foam capping-off your glass.
So, whether you are celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a pint of “the old plain” or a Black & Tan, don’t forget to check out this week’s featured finds. Pretzels and Pumpkin, rainpeople, Mann Made Designs, and Pamper & Preen have all created fun, handmade and upcycled goods that celebrate Arthur Guinness’ legacy. Be sure, as well, to visit 2boos to pick up some beautiful shots of Dublin and to join the St Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt that the Etsy Ireland team is putting on.
(And please, if you choose to imbibe on the 17th, stay away from the cheap, dyed stuff at your local watering hole. This is one time when I will advise you to NOT “go green”.)