Friday, December 10, 2010


Because it went so well for Oprah, I’m going to talk about my favorite things. My wife would probably agree that favorite thing #1 has to be going to bed on Friday night knowing that we can sleep for the next 13 hours if we wish. #2 favorite thing: NFL Red Zone (that one Tami will not agree with!). #3: a Philly cheesesteak with whiz. #4: the Alec Baldwin scene in Glengarry Glen Ross. And rounding out the top five are…Irish pubs! I love me some Irish pubs. Give me a big plate of bangers & mash and swords hanging on the wall, and I’m a happy camper.

So, what does one drink with bangers & mash or shepherd’s pie or corned beef & cabbage? Truly, I like Guinness as much as the next guy (actually more than the next guy, I’d wager). But six times out of ten, I’m going another route. Occasionally I’ll get all wild and crazy and order a black & tan or a Magners, but typically I’m boring and just ask for a Smithwick’s. It’s never a bad choice. Of all the big-name import beers, it may be the most underrated. If it’s not the best Irish red I’ve ever had (that would be Great Lakes Conway’s!), it’s at least a solid B+ ale. And surely this world would be a better place if there more B+ beers and less C- beers. We can marvel over the fact that Guinness has been going strong for 250 years plus, but how about three cheers for Smithwick’s and its three hundred years of brewing excellence?!

John Smithwick began brewing ales in 1710, on the site of an old Franciscan abbey in Kilkenny where monks had brewed beer since the 14th Century. The original plant still stands as Ireland’s oldest operating brewery, and Smithwick’s is still the definitive Irish red ale. Like so many tried-and-true classics on the beer market, it may seem a little tame compared to the daring concoctions dreamed up by the more recent generations of craft brewers. But sometimes you don’t need daring. Sometimes you just need a good beer. Smithwick’s is a splendidly balanced mix of sweet malts and bitter hops with requisite tea flavor and a touch of coffee notes from its roasted barley, pouring ruby red in color and seemingly made to be consumed next to any traditional Irish dish. If you’re just shooting the shit with your friends and drinking the night away, then by all means you can go with Guinness or Harp or god forbid something English like Bass (just kidding!). But with a meal, like a piping hot serving of shepherd’s pie in all its delicious glory, Smithwick’s cannot be beat. Don’t forget to ask for some soda bread!

1 comment:

Jason Lee said...

Next time at an Irish Pub, order a Blacksmith...Smithwick's topped off with Guinness. Best of both worlds!