Why does the beer turn green in March?
If you could look back through sixteen hundred years, they say you would see a man in Ireland illustrating the idea of the Christian holy trinity using a shamrock. This man was later to become Saint Patrick. The passage of time has wrapped him in the sort of mists that often form on the Gaelic Isles, but his name, the shamrock, and it’s green color, have emerged in our time as symbols of Ireland and her culture.
The Emerald Isle is just a tiny place, but people of Irish decent can be found in countries around the globe and the charms of their homeland have traveled with them. The 17th of this month has become a day when, in countries the world over, including Japan, all things Irish are celebrated. Around that day, the Irish and British pubs in Kansai will become enclaves of the green magic.
In the words of Steve Rourke of Murphy’s pub in Osaka’s Shinsaibashi area, “It’s a time when everyone, no matter where they are from, can be Irish for a while and enjoy the craic.”
I will not presume to tell you exactly what the craic is; you would do much better to seek out one of the pubs in your area and find out for yourself. But have no fear! It is a distinctly Irish brand of fun. At Hub, for instance, from the 13th to the 19th of March you will get a ten percent discount just for wearing something green. The pub itself will be tricked out with Saint Patrick’s decorations and the staff will be in costume. From the 14th to the 20th, Happy Hour will last all day at Dublin Bay and just bring something green with you to get a thirty percent discount on various Irish drinks.
Of course there will be beer, and plenty of it, in your choice of green or not, at any Irish pub. You might, however, be interested in another brew that is completely Irish and not subject to changes in color. Guinness began its life in the 18th century as
a “stouter porter” and become the signature product of a brewery in Dublin that has devoted itself to excellence in fermentation. Over time they hired promising researchers from Oxford and Cambridge. One such Brewer was William Gosset, who helped lay the foundation of modern statistics, by applying new mathematical techniques to the analysis of grain samples. Guinness gave them laboratories, gardens, a malthouse, and a miniature brewery all in the name of making great beer. During the celebrations you can quaff it at a discount at pubs like Murphy’s and Hobgoblin in Kobe. The Blarney Stone, for example, in Umeda and its new Shinsaibashi location, will be pulling it off between the 14th to the 17th for ¥800 a pint. From the 11th to the 19th you will find it at Hub for ¥810.
As good as it is, Guinness is not the only reason to come out on Saint Patrick’s Day. Beginning with their pre-party on the 12th, The Blarney Stone will be serving up Irish Stew, a hearty and traditional dish centered around the flavor of lamb. At Hobgoblin you can choose between the stew and colcannon, another time- honored dish, made with mashed potatoes and greens that, according to the song of the same name, can bring tears of nostalgia to Irish eyes.
You might even catch that tune at Hobgoblin on the day since there will be Irish music there all night. There will be free, live bands at The Blarney Stone on the 12th, 13th , and 17th. Dublin Bay will be holding a DJ event on the 19th. Union Trouble will be playing at Murphy’s on the 19th and 20th, along with live, six nations rugby on the screens and a live performance by Pirates of the Dotonbori on 20th.
Along with the entertainment, after the food and brew, what could be better than a wee dram? And if you haven’t tasted Irish whiskey in a while, it is high time you tried it again. In days gone by there were thirty licensed distilleries in Ireland. Hard times have brought the number down to four, but in the last two decades, those few have dramatically expanded their offerings. They have combined their proven techniques of hot air malting, and single pot distilling — which have always yielded a clean, smoothness — and the mixtures of barley and wheat or oats that add notes of grain and spice, with long aging in oak casks. The results are a wide range of blends and single malts that are recognized as world class spirits. On the 17th you can sample some for ¥300 at Murphy’s, or enjoy a Bushmills for ¥500 between the 14th and 16th at The Blarney Stone.
If you are the type inclined to take your celebrations out of doors, you can still put on some green and make some craic of your own. The Osaka group of Irish Network Japan will be holding the city’s first Irish Festival on the 19th. In the center of Osaka, onNakano- shima Island they will be hosting a day full of Irish music, dancing, and information including a Saint Patrick’s Day costume parade. You will be able to tuck into Irish cuisine at the restaurant or take a little bit of Ireland home from the souvenir shop. Check out the details at the URL below.