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10 best Irish beers to sip on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond

This March 17, grab a pint of one of these beers from the Emerald Isle.
photo collage of different beers
TODAY Illustration / Adobe stock

While jetting to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day may require a little luck (and planning and money), anyone can pretend, at least for a fleeting moment, that they are celebrating the holiday in the Emerald Isle by enjoying an Irish beer in the comfort of their own home. 

Aside from traditional stouts and red ales, Ireland is also known for pale lagers that pair best with flavor-heavy dishes like corned beef and cabbage, seafood chowder and soda bread

But with over 70 Irish breweries and hundreds of bottles to choose from, finding the perfect libation can be as difficult as spotting a four-leaf clover in a field of grass.

To make things easier, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite options, ranging in style and popularity.

Guinness Draught Stout 

We’d be remiss to not include the country’s most recognizable brew, both regionally and abroad. The rich, dark-hued stout is best enjoyed with heartier meals like beef stew, shepherd’s pie, and aged cheeses. But don’t pour it incorrectly — the company is adamant about starting your glass at a 45-degree angle before tilting it vertically so that the beer can settle and the classic foam can be the first thing to touch your lips.

Smithwick’s Red Ale

If we’re talking about Irish icons, Smithwick’s is the Guinness of red ales. Founded in 1710 by brewer John Smithwick, the sweet and malty beer is clean, hoppy and a refreshing sip on a warm spring or summer day. Bottles are also readily available in stores like Trader Joe’s, which means you can pick up a case in a pinch and not have to bounce from liquor store to liquor store. 

Harp Lager

Crisp, smooth and famous for its identifiably pilsner style of brewing, Harp Lager uses premium barley and spring water from the Cooley Mountains of Dundalk, Ireland to achieve its signature taste. Use it to create a Half & Half, an equal pour of Guinness and Harp, for a beautifully layered beverage that volleys between bitter and floral notes.

Murphy’s Stout

Guinness may dominate the stout game, but its creamier cousin, Murphy’s, makes an excellent alternative for those who can’t tolerate too much acidity. In fact, many industry folk have dubbed it as “chocolate milk’s distant relative,” which is probably one of the best compliments you can get. If we were in Murphy’s marketing department, we’d consider slapping it on the label. 

Kinnegar Scraggy Bay IPA

A symphony of flavors hits the palate from every direction with notes of biscuit, caramel and even pine after one sip of Kinnegar Scraggy Bay IPA. Known affectionately as “Yellowcap” in Ireland, it’s become the go-to IPA for locals, thanks to its complex yet balanced foundation, washed down by a deliciously foamy and cloud-like white head.

Wicklow Wolf Elevation Pale Ale

If the idea of sipping on pineapple and grapefruit tickles your fancy, you’ll be delighted to swig fruit and hops-forward Wicklow Wolf Elevation Pale Ale. But this can is not for the bold beer-averse with an ultra-juicy mouthfeel and surprisingly dry aftertaste that wakes up the tongue (and, frankly, keeps us craving more). 

O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale

A contemporary take on a traditional IPA, O’Hara’s has delighted bar patrons all over the world with a lightly carbonated, intensely floral ale that leaves a lingering trace of sweetness and zest. Its signature copper color also shines in a standard pint glass, so pour it out at your next soiree and you’ll certainly attract a crowd. 

The Porterhouse Brewing Company Oyster Stout

Brewed from actual oysters (a practice that started in the 19th century using only the shells), this surprisingly balanced bottle marries brine and caramel with notes of spicy herbs and menthol. Go full meta and pair the unique concoction with fresh oysters for a gastronomical experience that is out of this world — er, sea. 

Sullivan’s Maltings Irish Ale

This beloved ruby ale has emerged as a bit of a local celebrity. Thanks to Maltings, Sullivan’s was the first Irish brewing company to ever win a World Champion Keg trophy at the International Brewing Awards in 2018. Since then, it has dominated taps in bars, both here and across the Atlantic, with its rich biscuit, caramel flavor of which beer connoisseurs simply can’t get enough.

Magners Original Irish Cider

Magners isn’t a beer, but it’s a wonderful alternative for those pining for a pint of a not so offensively sweet cider (a.k.a. what we often find in the States). Incorporating juices from a whopping 17 varieties of apples and borrowing some of the fermentation practices with wine, the blend boasts a robustly apple flavor with subtle tartness and, most importantly, gentle bubbles that won’t overpower an Irish meal.