I understand, after 13 years of celebrating this day, I am sure my mates are over drinking beer they don't like and/or have moved on with their lives and now have better things to do...yep, their problem really.
In any case, being old enough now to not want to get caught up in the masses of people just drinking to get drunk and pretend/overdo an irish ancestry, I get in early and try and find a real irish pub, and then hit other pubs with good stouts.
This year saw me trying to hit the Drunken Poet as I did last year, however was very disappointed to find it closed when I got there at 1pm. Just before my mind completely switched off with this impossible thought, I saw a sign in the window telling me to go to the Empty Jar instead. I took the signs advice. Many Melbournites will know this as the old Arthouse Hotel, which is now being converted into a larger version of the DP, by those that own the DP.
45 minutes after entering I left with two pints of Guinness under my belt and a silly hat on my head. Even after 13 years, the texture of that beer still astounds me, and while the flavour is not as good as the Guinness I had in Ireland 4 years ago, a DP/Empty Jar Guinness is still the best I get in Melbourne, and was great to get some before the crowd really started to come in. Drinking Guinness is now more of a nostalgic experience after this long, from my very first Guinness on St Pat's Day 1999, to my first 'real' Guinness on St Pat's Day 2008 in Galway, and so drinking these two to start the day brought back all the memories from St Pat's Days past, all those I have shared a Guinness with, and what my enjoyment of Guinness has allowed me to experience. I can still remember the best and worse Guinness I have ever had.
With the tradition out of the way, I could then go in search of other pubs serving good stout on this day, and so made my way to The Local Taphouse, which I had heard had Moo Brew Barrel-aged Imperial Stout 2010 on tap. While it may have taken me 45 mins to drink 2 pints of Guinness, it too me nearly one and a half hours to get through a pot of the Moo Brew. While everyone made the most of the 'grand' day in the outdoor area of the Local, I found a dark quiet corner to allow me to contemplate over this beer. It would have been funny if there was a time-lapse camera as I slowly sipped away at my beer quietly while people started filling in the space around me as the crowd increased in the pub. This beer just has the power to make time slow down for me, or maybe just for me to lose time while enjoying it. The dankish chocolate malt up front with dark fruitiness builds to a dark spirit on midpalate as the alcohol builds towards the back. However, in this beer, a wooded character comes through (and assuming it is aged in french oak) with a spiciness that comes across the back as the alcohol stays mellow and you are left relaxed and entranced. I actually had to get a glass of what while drinking this beer, as it coats your tongue so much. To be able to enjoy the beer for as long as possible, this water is needed so your tastebuds don't just die on your before you finish the beer. Still, even with water and time, I found I was not able to appreciate the beer as much with the last few sips...well, apart from the alcohol induced contentment it gave me.
Finally moving from my seat I made my way back towards home, and went past a heaving Bridie O'Reilly's on Chapel Street. I was very happy that I was not a part of it. I did however stop at the Royston to grab a pot of the Nogne O Det Kompromisslos Bryggeriet Imperial Stout and a Holgate Temptress. Ok, the Temptress is not a stout, but seeing porter is a style older than stout, has even more tradition than a St Pat's Guinness. Still, it managed to bite me in the arse as it didn't quite come up the scratch. The texture was still there and some chocolate flavour did come through, but what I thought was the chalkiness of it being too cold, over time and warmth I was shown that the beer seemed a bit old as it kept on being dusty throughout.
Luckily the Nogne O did not disappoint, with some similar character to the Moo Brew I had earlier. The chocolate malt was probably a bit bigger and brighter in this that the Moo, and none of the wooded character to go with the dark spirit midpalate. It was even a little watery at the back, leaving little aftertaste, which could make it a bit dangerous at 9%.
After another hour and half to get through those two, I made my way home to finish off the other half of a potato bake I had made to line my stomach before heading out for this St Pat's beer journey. Potato and stout...now that is a good St Pat's Day, and also had a bottle of Guinness foreign extra stout so I could start and end the day on Guinness. I don't know if it has just been in my possession for a while, but there was a definite choc-caramel flavour on the front on the tongue, which diminished on midpalate as the alcohol rises in taste. However, as I went along, I found a somewhat strange aftertaste increase with each sip. There is quite a bitterness, but something else as well that I could not put my finger (or tastebuds) on.
So, another St Pat's Day done and dusted. Irish superstition may have made it unlucky for finding drinking buddies, I at least managed to entertain myself with some good beers and memories to engage with.
PS: I should probably add that today is the first anniversary of my first day of work at Mountain Goat Brewery. While there was not many days work done for them in the first 6 months, I am happy to have now been a part-timer for over 3 months now, and my experience growing each day. Cheers Goat, hope you still want me around another year from now.