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Weekend Werind: The Patron Saint of Stouts

If you’re like me — or like millions of other Americans who giddily celebrate (or co-opt) an Irish heritage this week — then you’re looking forward to a festive St. Patrick’s Day later this week.

Or you’re nursing a nasty hangover because you jumped the gun on the celebration already. In which case, I admire your dedication, but I don’t recommend turning St. Patty’s into a weeklong event. That green beer doesn’t look or taste any better coming up than it did going down. You’ve got to pace yourself, there, O’Callahan.

Meanwhile, my mid-March staple is the same as always at the local Irish pub — Guinness stout. It’s lighter than you’d think (once you’re accustomed to drinking it), tastier than you might imagine (unless you’re familiar with its creamy cascading goodness) and with far fewer calories than you’d ever expect (unless word of its svelte-supporting silkiness has already reached you).

“There’s only so much emerald-dyed pisswater you can guzzle before you graduate to an adult beverage just a little more Irish authentic.”

Don’t get me wrong, now. I’m not here to convert you over to Guinness. The less you drink, the more there is for me. So that’s not my aim here.

It is, however, the aim of certain other people. Folks hired by Guinness to host ‘Believer Events’, where the precious brews are poured and sipped and sampled, usually alongside various appetizers and tidbits designed specifically by the organizers to pair well with a quality stout.

(Or chicken fingers. Some people figure chicken fingers go with anything.

I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m just saying it’s kind of easy. You don’t see the people on Iron Chef mailing it in with chicken fingers. Huroyuki Sakai would seppuku himself before he’d stoop to that level. Brainstorm a little harder, there, Believer Event people.)

I’ve been to a few of these ‘Believer Events’ — none of which coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, of course. One day a year, just about everyone’s a believer. There’s only so much emerald-dyed pisswater you can guzzle before you graduate to an adult beverage just a little more Irish authentic. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready to tackle poitin again.

I had one shot of that firewater once, and I couldn’t see out of my left eye for a week. Evidently, I’m one of those people merely co-opting an Irish background. Or if I’ve got any Irish in me, it’s nowhere near the liver. Or my left eye, apparently.

At any rate, this seems as relevant a time as any to point back to my two posts concerning these Guinness Believer Events. The first, entitled Why Yes, I Will Have Another! How Could I Not? lovingly describes my initial love affair with these sudsy soirees, and the fantastic parade of tidbits, ‘tizers and tasty brews they entail.

Or, sadly, used to entail. The second post, I Coulda Been a Believah! details the disappointing and sobering turn the Events took in their later incarnations. It’s not as though they were ‘bad‘, exactly. Just exponentially worse than the first couple I attended. Or as I put it in that latter post:

Free lunch and an open bar turned into a half a soda and a TicTac.

So I stopped going to the things a while back. I still enjoy a cold Guinness now and then — and then, and then again, if I can get it — but these days, I pimp the beer, not the bashes. If you want to sit around with a tableful of friends for a few hours drinking your fill of Guinness and having a high old time of it, the Guinness Believer Events are no longer your best option.

Your local Irish pub this Tuesday, however… well, now there’s an event I can get behind and drink with gusto. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks.

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