Yes, it’s St Paddy’s Day. But that doesn’t mean you have to put on a novelty wig and choke down a warm Guinness from Weatherspoon’s.
We are a big fans of the Black Stuff over here – the Ebony Nectar, Black Custard, Mother’s Milk, whatever you call it – but stout doesn’t start and end with Guinness.
So here's a few stouts on sale around Herefordshire this weekend if you fancy mixing it up a bit.
Hereford Beer House
At the moment they have dozens (dozens!) of different stouts in bottles or cans, and on tap at their West Street bottle shop.
I’ll leave it to HBH’s Jonathan Bright to give you the whistlestop tour.
“We've got milk stout, coffee stout, chocolate stout, spiced stout, India stout (hoppy), export stout, imperial stout, oatmeal stout, brown stout, chocolate orange stout, peanut butter stout, mint stout, salted caramel stout, stouts aged in whisky, red wine, tequila, bourbon and grand marnier barrels, nitro stouts, breakfast stout and oyster stout.
“None of them Irish or beginning with the letter G.
“I think we're the place to be if you want to drink a stout today.”
So this Paddy’s Day, buck the trend and treat yourself to a new brew – one that even though it may not be strictly Irish, honours this great drinking holiday, and that great drinking nation, in a way that a hastily-poured Guinness with clover blobbed in to the top of it never will.
If you still feel guilty, just put some Dubliners on in the background.
Here are Jonny's three picks to try at Hereford Beer House this Paddy’s Day.
1. Left Hand Brewing Co. - Milk Stout 6.0%
From Colorado, USA
2. Beavertown - Holy Cowbell 5.6%
From London, UK
3. Magic Rock Brewing - Dark Arts Surreal Stout 6.0%
From Manchester, UK
The Hereford Beer House is open today from 12- 9pm with beer available to drink in or take away.
Odyssey Brew Co.
If you're looking for something local to swig on while you're belting out Pogues songs, you need to check out Grevious Angel.
Brewed by the brilliant Brockhampton-based micro-brewery - Odyssey Brew Co, whose HQ is a National Trust barn - Grevious Angel is moveable feast of a stout with each version taking on a slightly different taste to the last.
But the current version features chocolate and vanilla, as well as coffee provided by roaster extraordinaire, Herefordshire's-own Peter James.
Grievous Angel Imperial Oatmeal Brown Ale 9%
Odyssey's Mitchell says of the Angel:
"It doesn't taste it's strength. The beer is also brewed with lactose and oats (milk sugar) to give the beer amazing mouthfeel and lasting sweetness. Huge chocolate notes on the nose that follow through to the taste, underpinned by vanilla and rounded off by lovely roasted coffee bitterness at the end."
So now you know.You can grab yourself a few bottles at Odyssey's award-winning pub - Beer in Hand on Eign St, Hereford.
Wye Valley Brewery
Better known for their lighter-coloured varieties, Wye Valley also have a couple of knockout stouts in their repertoire.
Their Wholesome Stout - which has been described as having a black, treacle, smoky, woody taste - was awarded a silver at the International Beer Challenge. But if you want to try something a bit special, check out their 6 percent Mocha Stout - only available from the brewery shop in Stoke Lacy
Wye Valley Brewery - Mocha Stout, 6%
Stoke Lacy, UK
(PS. We still love Guinness)