I'm not known for my fondness of green dyed beer. In my family St.Patrick's day starts with a Guinness and ends with an Irish whiskey. Somewhere in between there's an Irish breakfast and some soda bread. We wear green, we don't drink green.
Green dyed beer is unanimously an American construct. Not in the least bit Irish, except maybe in inspiration. In fact, Irish people were still being introduced to green pints well into the 1980s. Yet every year, pints and pints of emerald colored beer march across bars from coast to coast in honor of St. Patrick. What I'd like to know is who was the first person to think, "you know beer is good, but green beer? You might just have something there!"
Some say the inspiration for the green colored beer may have come from the Irish tradition of "drowning the shamrock." On St. Patrick's night, the last pint or more appropriately the last glass of whiskey, gets a shamrock added to it in honor of the whiskey swigging saint himself. Then once the glass is empty, the drinker tosses the drunken shamrock over their left shoulder, which I can only think is for luck. I actually kind of love this tradition and am totally going to christen the last drink of the night with a shamrock. Though sadly I think my drowned shamrock will probably be fake... cause I have no idea where to find a real one. Also what happens if you drink the shamrock? Is that like less luck? Someone weigh in here!
It's quite possible that this was the inspiration for Dr. Thomas H. Curtin, the supposed creator of the green dyed pint. In 1914 Dr. Curtin, a coroner's physician, decided to contribute to his Bronx social club's festivities by bringing a round of brightly green beer. It was of course a hit and a number of fans asked for his recipe. All he would say of the ingredients was that he added a drop of "wash blue" to an unspecified volume of beer. Considering the number of recipe's now on the internet for how to make green beer (really ya'll?! You need a recipe for adding food coloring to beer?!) he hardly need bother being so cryptic. Especially since he most likely kinda poisoned his guests. "Wash Blue" is an iron powder that was added to laundry to brighten the whites. Probably not the greatest thing to have people guzzling by the pint. What doesn't kill you right?
However, there is also an article from 1910 that claims that a bartender at the First Avenue Bar in Spokane was serving green colored pints to patriotic Irishmen or anyone else who wanted to enjoy them. The journalist covering the story had one of the most priceless reactions. He wrote, "It tastes like beer, but looks like paint," which seems like his first impression. Then he had a few two many and thought he needed to elaborate his description of the beer. He added " or rather like deep green waves in mid ocean with the sun striking through them." Drunken poetry.
It tastes like beer, but looks like paint,
Celebrating all that we raise, sip, guzzle, clink, drinks and most affectionately cheers with!