A sampling of Irish drinking songs to get your primed for St. Patrick's Day
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March 14, 2013

What Ales You: All that glitters is not Guinness, Harp or Smithwicks

For beer with more direct ties to Ireland, try brews from Porterhouse or O'Hara's.


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I am not a huge fan of Irish pale ales, but O'Hara's Pale Ale is a bit better -- leaning toward an English IPA rather than a pale ale. It has some citrusy notes as well as a good hops bite, and comes in at 5.2 percent alcohol.

ALTHOUGH I dismissed Guinness at the start of this column, you probably will drink some over the weekend, so I should say something about it.

First, the Guinness 12-pack -- which was on sale at Shaw's for $12.99 -- included some Guinness Generous Ale, which was pretty good as a relaxing kind of beer, low in hops and rich in malt. It is 5.6 percent alcohol, and has a rich head.

About Guinness itself: If you are in a bar that has it on draught, buy it. It's creamy, smooth, malty and mild, and only 4.2 percent alcohol, so you can drink it all day if you pace yourself and have some bangers and mash to go along with it. It is never as good in any bottled or canned format as it is when drawn in a bar.

If you are buying it to drink at home, go with the Guinness Extra Stout in a regular bottle at 6 percent alcohol. It's the one that was first imported to the United States and what I am used to. I just like the richness of it.

The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, which was also included in the 12-pack, is 7.2 percent alcohol and gets great reviews on all the beer websites. But for me, it is a bit over the top -- with stronger flavors everywhere.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or:



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