Whether you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or just like the color, you may want to participate in consuming green beer. Despite its ties to the holiday, drinking green beer is not an Irish tradition; it’s completely an American one.
The first celebratory green beer is often credited to Dr. Thomas H. Curtin a coroner's physician and eye surgeon. He colored beer green for a St. Patrick’s Day party at the Schnerer Club of Morrisania in the Bronx in 1914. Dr. Curtin was pretty vague about his recipe, saying that he made it green by adding “one drop of wash blue in a certain quantity of the beer.”
While Dr. Curtin’s recipe remains vague, there’s no trickery or special skills involved in making an emerald brew for the season. All you need is some beer and some food coloring.
- 12 oz beer
- Food coloring
- Your favorite glass (or pitcher)
For one drink, grab your favorite pint glass and first add a few drops of food coloring. Depending on how vibrant you want your brew, you may want to add at least 2-3 drops per glass. Liquid green food coloring will be much easier to deal with than gels, pastes, or powdered dyes. If you do use a powder or paste, you will likely need to use a whisk to blend the dye with the beer. Make sure whatever dye you use is food safe.
Next, add your beer! Technically, you can use just about any beer you fancy. However, lighter colored beers, such as a pilsner or a pale ale work best and yield a brighter color (even with less food dye). Dark beers, such as stouts, are too dark to allow the green to shine. However, if a stout is your absolute favorite, you may be able to see a slight green hue in the right light, and the foam will pick up the green color.
If you want to make pitchers of beer, rather than one glass at a time, you’ll just need to use enough green food coloring to compensate for the extra beer.
Dr. Curtin’s recipe used blue coloring (“wash blue” was an iron powder used for whitening clothes), and many green beer recipes still use blue food coloring because the blue mixes with the beer’s natural yellow hue to make green. For some beers and food dyes, the result with blue may come out more turquoise than emerald.
You can also easily make green beer without using artificial coloring! There are quite a few all-natural coloring that you can use to dye your beer green! Some options include wheatgrass juice, matcha, and spirulina.
One thing to note about using natural dyes to color your beer: the results are probably going to look (and potentially taste) different than artificial coloring. Of these three suggestions, matcha will add the mildest flavor to your beer, but all three will alter the taste in some way. If you don’t like these flavors on their own, chances are you’re not going to like them in your beer.
If all else fails—you can always just use a green cup!
Do you know all of the ingredients used to make beer? Besides water, barley, yeast, and hops, brewers can add acidulants, preservatives, and other additives to improve the flavor and longevity of their beer.