There's the old saying "Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day."

It's a day of camaraderie and smiles, stews, and corned beef and cabbage. And, in many circles, beer or whiskey.

Since my wife keeps me away from whiskey in general, due to my disposition after consuming it, I tend to stick with beer at gatherings and celebrations this time of year. Not that I mind at all.

Most establishments usually offer Guinness, Killian's Irish Red, Smithwick's or some atrocity turned green from obscene amounts of food coloring. While the first three options listed in that last sentence aren't bad at all, the last one certainly is.

Unfortunately, that's the one most people find most attractive because of the novelty of it.

But the options for beer with an Irish influence have expanded far beyond the mainstays, and that's certainly a good thing.

The tried-and-true are still decent options, but they're no longer the only way to go on St. Patrick's Day.

For something that sounds Irish and has a taste that would fit in nicely at any celebration, try Wachusett Brewing's Quinn's Amber Ale. An amber ale by name, it's more of an Irish red in flavor: easy drinking with very little in terms of bitterness and a nice malt profile.

Similarly, Harpoon Celtic Red is a beer that -- in the brewery's words -- is "brewed for the late winter and St. Patrick's Day celebrations." That takes all the guesswork out, doesn't it? It's an Irish Red Ale that's sweet and malty with just a hint of hop bitterness in the finish.


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Both are solid examples of Irish Reds, even with a bit of a crimson hue to the beverages. And they're seasonals, so the time to get them is now.

If you're a Guinness drinker looking to branch out, there are myriad options for quality stouts. But Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout Nitro is among the best. Lacking carbonation due to its use of nitrogen, it's creamy and smooth, sweet and delicious. And despite its dark appearance, it's relatively light and not all that boozy, checking in at 6 percent ABV.

For a more tradition Irish-style beverage, North Coast's Old No. 38 Stout is an Irish Dry Stout, taking its flavor from roasted barley with a little hop bitterness and a dry finish. Like most beers of that category, Old No. 38 isn't highly carbonated and, at 5.4 percent ABV, is a great choice for someone looking to have a few drinks without regretting it shortly after.

But if you're not feeling adventurous or you've decided to go the traditional route, there's nothing wrong with hoisting a pint of Guinness or Smithwick's or Killian's. Just stay away from the green stuff (unless it's cabbage with your dinner) and spread some cheer.

As the Irish say, Sláinte!

Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter and Tout @n_mallard.