A toast to the Irish
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, most people’s minds, mouths and wallets are almost sure to be more drawn to beer than usual.
The now legendary spring holiday, which is celebrated in homes, restaurants, bars, pubs and taverns worldwide on March 17, began very differently than the current rendition might insinuate. St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday celebrating the life and work of an Irish saint who brought Christianity to his people in the fifth century, according to history.com. In fact, Ireland prohibited pubs from opening on this day until the 1970s, but since then the holiday had become a commodity for tourism in Ireland.
Irish beer isn’t uncommon, especially around the liquor-laden March holiday, but the metropolitan’s most notable Irish joints include Dugan’s Pub in Little Rock’s River Market district, Hibernia Irish Tavern in West Little Rock and Creegan’s Irish Pub in downtown North Little Rock.
Dugan’s Pub, owned by Don Dugan, is located at the corner of 3rd Street and Rock Street in downtown Little Rock.
Hibernia Irish Tavern is an Irish-style pub located on North Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock that offers what owner Gerry Ward calls “Ceol, Caint Agus Craic,” which translates to “music, chat and fun.” Hibernia, which is dubbed after the Roman name for Ireland, offers traditional Irish dishes, such as bangers and mash, fish and chips and cottage pie, as well as a selection of beers that can be had at a discount during the tavern’s daily happy hour (excluding weekends).
Creegan’s Irish Pub, which derives its name from the Gaelic translation of Little Rock, sits on the corner of Main Street and Broadway Avenue, just across from North Little Rock City Hall. The authentic Irish pub was built in Dublin, Ireland and shipped to the Argenta by the three Air Force pilots who co-founded the establishment, according to creegans.com. The bar boasts a selection of nearly 100 different beers, including Irish classics such as Guinness, O’Hara’s, Smithwicks and Harp.
While companies such as Guiness, O’Hara’s and Murphy’s are among the best known producers of quality Irish beer, there also are domestic options. Kansas City, Mo. is home to Boulevard Brewing Company, brewer of a popular spring seasonal beer called Irish Ale. The Irish Ale is described as a tribute to the red ales of old Ireland and is the product of a combination of six kinds of barley malts, which “provide a rich, toasty flavor and tawny reddish hue,” according to boulevard.com.
More locally is Diamond Bear Brewery, a company that has been brewing craft beer in downtown Little Rock since 2000. The brewery is located at 323C Cross Street, where a small crew turns out a selection of seven different beers, including Irish Red. The locally brewed spring seasonal ale contains 4.69 percent alcohol by volume and is served and sold at a variety of local businesses.
If you are looking for a wide selection of Irish beer, or any other beer you could think of, look no further than Little Rock’s Flying Saucer, located at 323 President Clinton Ave. Irish beers from Boulevard Irish Ale, Diamond Bear Irish Red and Smithwick’s Ale to McSorley’s Irish Dark lager and Guinness Black lager are available at The Saucer. The bar also offers a popular St. Patrick’s Day favorite for the heavier drinker -a mixed drink known as the “Irish Car Bomb.” The Irish Car Bomb is created when the customer drops a mixed shot of Irish Whiskey, typically Jameson, and Irish Cream, typically Bailey’s, into a half pint of Guiness. But consider the name -this drink can cause some serious damage, especially when performed multiple times.