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culture

My Goodness, No Guinness?

Some local alternatives to Guinness, for your St. Patrick's Day enjoyment.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastianip/3561620705/"}ip.sebastian{/a}, from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist/"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

For some, the thought of a St. Patrick’s Day without a pint (or two) of Guinness is sacrilege—you might as well just pack your green clothes away and not pretend to be Irish. A few weeks back, that terrible thought nearly became a reality for Torontonians, as word got out that the black stuff wouldn’t make it over from Ireland in time for March 17.

Even though this crisis was averted, it got us thinking about contingency plans, specifically of the local variety. So if you’re looking to try something different this St. Patty’s Day, or your local pub or LCBO store happens to run out of Guinness, here are some local alternatives for you to enjoy whether you’re Irish or just trying to be.

At the pub

Guinness, or any stout for that matter, is best enjoyed on draught at a local pub. In fact, many of the best stouts in the GTA are only available on tap, including the superb Black Katt stout from County Durham Brewery in Pickering, Mill Street Cobblestone stout, and Granite Brewery’s Keefe’s Irish stout. All of these stouts are, like Guinness, poured using nitrogen gas, which adds to their distinct taste and is also responsible for the impressive cascade effect when the glass is left to settle. Your best bet for finding these beers is to call the breweries—they can give you an idea of who slings their suds.

For those looking for an experience rich in stout-ly goodness, the Granite Brewery (245 Eglinton Avenue East, at Mount Pleasant) is offering its Black Gold Stout Series. In addition to their Keefe’s stout, the Granite will be tapping its series of flavoured stouts, including chocolate orange and vanilla on cask, and a distinctly Canadian maple stout on draught. The most titillating flavour, though, would have to be the chocolate chili. Enjoy at your own risk!

At home

If the thought of an endless sea of drunk people in green is enough to to turn you green, there are local stouts available to enjoy at home. Both the Black Creek Brewery in north Toronto and the Hockley Valley Brewing Co. in Orangeville brew excellent ones. The Hockley offering, billed as a traditional Irish stout, definitely lives up to its roots. Like Guinness, it’s not too heavy and definitely lends itself to repeat enjoyment. Hockley also offers a black and tan, which is a blend of the stout and their lager, for those after a lighter taste. The Black Creek stout has a distinct smokey flavour which is lost upon refrigeration. Better to drink it at room temperature, if you’re up to it.

Don’t like beer?

A St. Patrick’s Day without beer? Perish the thought! But if beer really isn’t your thing, you can always celebrate St. Patty’s with some traditional Irish whiskey. There are no local offerings in this category, but the LCBO’s flagship store at Yonge and Summerhill has a comprehensive selection, and they allow customers to try some in-store. Go for the Green Spot single-pot still, for a real treat.

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