Green Beer! The 5 Best Beers to Dye for St. Patrick’s Day

published Mar 13, 2017
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(Image credit: Brittany Keats Cerullo)

Whether you’re Irish or not, St. Patrick’s Day in America means turning all the things green. Every March 17, the color seems to work its way into people’s wardrobes, food, and pint glasses.

According to legend, and most sources including The Smithsonian, green beer was first concocted in New York City in 1914 when a coroner named Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin used an iron powder to transform an amber-colored ale into a more holiday-appropriate beverage. By the 1950s, green beer became more mainstream, and today it’s basically a holiday staple.

Bars and restaurants all over the country serve green beer, but in many of those cases the keg is something light, watery, and less than delicious. That’s why this year, instead of going to my local pub and waiting in line for a glass of unknown green beer, I’m determined to make the perfect pint at home.

How to Dye Beer Green

Before you decide which beer to work with, it’s important to know how to dye beer to begin with. While there are a lot of different ways to transform your beer into a brand-new color, the easiest way is with a few drops simple food coloring. Depending on the beer you’re drinking, you’ll need either green (for light beers, like IPAs and pilsners) or blue dye (for darker beers, like Belgian witbiers or lagers).

The process itself is simple: Put two generous drops of dye in the bottom of your pint glass and slowly pour the beer in at an angle down the side. The carbonation of the beer will do a lot of the mixing for you, but you might need to use a stirrer to finish the job. While beer almost always tastes better out of a frosted pint, it is better to use a room-temperature glass when working with food coloring (otherwise the dye tends to clump at the bottom of the glass).

Got it? All you need now is beer.

5 of Our Favorite Beers to Dye Green for St. Patrick’s

A dry-hopped pilsner from Maine’s Peak Organic Brewing Company, Fresh Cut is the perfect beer to dye green for St. Patrick’s day. Light in both taste and color, it easily takes up a bright shamrock color when you add a few drops of green to the glass. Plus, its low ABV — only 4.6 percent — makes it a sip-able beer to get you through a day of celebrating.

If you’re looking for a more traditional St. Patrick’s Day brewery, you can’t go wrong with Sam Adams. A West Coast-style brew that has a nice balance of bitterness and juiciness, the Rebel IPA’s caramel color combined with green dye makes a dark-green drink.

A bold brew with plenty of flavor, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale quickly becomes a bright-green color perfect for St. Patty’s with a few drops of blue food coloring. Despite its name, this pale ale has a rich amber color that makes it an ideal starting place for beer drinkers looking to experiment with dying their drinks.

Who says you can’t drink Belgian-style brew on an Irish holiday? With the help of some blue food coloring, this orange-hued beer — which is brewed with real orange, lemon, and lime peels — takes on a festive green look you won’t get pinched for.

Another Massachusetts-based beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day’s long history with the state, this Jack’s Abby IPL is a unique combination of West Coast hops and tropical fruit. Give it a few drops of blue coloring and you’re ready to go.

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