St. Patrick's Day has arrived but whatever you do to celebrate, spare yourself the green beer. Even if you start the day with Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast and end it the hard way with Viking-inspired Skull Splitter ale, there are many fine brews worthy of the day's toasts.
Orkney Brewery, Orkney, Scotland
Named after Thorfinn Einarsson (actually a translation of his nickname "Hausakluif"), the seventh Viking Earl of Orkney, this Scotch ale is brewed with pale ale malts, crystal and chocolate malts and East Kent Goldings hops. It has a nice taste of toasted malts, molasses and dark fruits with a subtle hint of spices. Also called a "wee heavy," it packs a hard-hitting alcohol content of 8.5 percent.
Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale
Black Sheep Brewery PLC, Masham, England
Not quite from the Ministry of Funny Beers, this English pale ale was commissioned to commemorate Monty Python's 30th anniversary. The full-flavored ale offers fruity and spicy hop bitterness with hints of breadlike maltiness. Black Sheep Brewery is only half as old as the British comedy troupe, but the beer has made a splash on Broadway and was presented as a gift to Pope Benedict XVI.
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
Harpoon Brewery, Boston, Mass.
Harpoon UFO is a cloudy, unfiltered wheat beer with a mild, sweet citrus flavor and a subtle hint of floral hops. It's clean finish makes it a good beer to beat the heat in either Louisiana or Area 51.
Brouwerij Huyghe, Gent, Belgium
This high-alcohol (9 percent) Belgian strong pale ale was once banned in the United States because of its name — which, shortened to "DTs," refers to the state of withdrawal from alcohol addiction. It is brewed with Saaz and Styrian hops and fermented with three yeasts in a two-stage process. Tremens has a honey-sweet flavor with balanced hints of black pepper and hops.
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
Mikkeller Brewery, Copenhagen, Denmark
This beer is not just for breakfast, but beer fanatics might like to start the day with it. Brewed with oats and coffee, the beer is intense and full-bodied with hints of chocolate and caramel but is dominated by the taste of coffee. An imperial stout, it has an eye-opening 7.5 percent alcohol content.
Abita Brewing Co., Abita Springs, La.
Abita has offered Andygator in a keg for years, but it is now available in a big bottle (22 oz.). It's a helles dopplebock-style beer made with pale malts, German lager yeast and German Perle hops. It has an 8 percent alcohol content and dry finish with slightly sweet flavor and subtle fruit aroma.