How to make green beer, leprechaun style

When I embarked on making the perfect green beer for St. Patrick’s Day, I decided no fooling around: I captured a leprechaun and asked it for the recipe. At first, of course, it refused to tell me. It even offered to take me to its pot of gold instead, but I knew that was a trick. Then it started feeding me a spiel about squeezing shamrock juice into the beer, but I didn’t buy that, either.

I resorted to tickle torture, and finally the leprechaun admitted the truth: they use food coloring, just like everyone else. Huge disappointment, I know! And yet how cool is it that you, too, can make festive green beer with nothing more than a trip to the grocery store and a few minutes’ time?

The leprechaun didn’t tell me which color food coloring works best, so I had to test both blue and green. Below are the results.

Beer & Food Coloring

To play along at home, all you need is beer, a clear glass or mug, a spoon or stirring device of some sort, and food coloring. Choose a pale beer – I went with Harp, a pale Irish lager. If you’re not of Irish descent, you may use a non-Irish beer if you must, but for goodness’ sake, don’t brag about it around St. Patrick’s Day.

Green Beer tutorial

Step 1: Pour your beer

On my first experiment, I allowed the beer to form a head as I poured. I thought it might be prettier for the experiment, but it’s just a pain when you’re stirring food coloring in, because the food coloring gets stuck in the foam. So I recommend you hold the beer mug at a slant, pour very slowly, let the beer stream hit the side of the glass and trickle down to the bottom, so you get minimal foam formation.

Step 2: Add food coloring

Next comes the food coloring. My first try was with blue, which is supposed to mix with the yellow of the beer and make green. I added a drop or two, stirred gently (you don’t want to create more foam by stirring too hard), added another drop or two… after six drops, I got something I wasn’t expecting: a green that leaned more olive than emerald.

Green Beer tutorial

I had really thought the “yellow and blue make green” thing would work. Were all those Ziploc commercials over the years just lying to me? Surely the green would come out even more yellowy than blue. But I tried green food coloring – again, about 6 drops – and got the bright beautiful emerald green I was going for:

Green Beer tutorial

How to make the perfect Green Beer

I definitely preferred the look I got with the green food coloring. But both versions were equally tasty.

Green Beer tutorial

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Get every recipe free in your email inbox!

Recipes are posted about 3 times a week.

Join us on social media for every recipe + lots of great food & drink from other sites!
Pinterest - Facebook - Twitter - BlogLovin' - RSS


  1. Man that makes me thirsty, lol. I’m surprised there’s such a difference between the blue food coloring and the green, there’s no competition really. That emerald green beer looks amazing!

  2. Ugh. If I’m at a bar on St. Patty’s (which I usually am), I always beg the bartender to leave the green stuff out of my beer. They always go way too heavy on the stuff and you wind up with a nice green oil slick on top of your beer.

    • TC, the color results really surprised me!

      Matt, I hear ya. It really only takes a few drops – 4, 5, maybe 6 at the most. Then it’s perfectly drinkable.

  3. Jimmy Hats says:

    Awesome…I will puke out green beer all day.

  4. I have found that if you just put the food coloring in the bottom of the glass before you pour, there is no need to stir.
    Na Zdrowie!

  5. no more than 2 drops.. heed warning

  6. hehe. my bday is patty’s day and ive tended bar for many moons. youre not going to physically hurt yourself by using more than 2 drops of coloring. but youlle see some funny results that night or the morning after if you do…

  7. I didn’t see any “funny” results at all (I assume you mean in the bathroom?), and 2 drops only made the beer a sickly yellowy green.

    Maybe it depends on the food coloring vial you’re using – how big the drops are?

  8. not trying to be a jerk but it’s paddy’s day….. not patty’s….. that just sounds stupid. and trust me i know, i’m irish (as in i was born and live in ireland). and why oh why would you want green beer? the real irish drink in Guinness or whisky and they looks much nicer than green beer

  9. veesings4him says:

    Billbo, my irish friend, of course Guiness is the beer of choice, but admit it, you lovely people dye and entire canal of water green!! Green is the color of choice, and that’s the effect Americans are shooting for. It is nothing more than an act of intense devotion to the holiday!! I too am irish, and reside in the states. In the end, the desired result is fun to be had by all and the streets to be covered in St. Paddy’s lovely green hue!! Happy Day to you all!! :o)

  10. excellent article…just the info about which food color to use i was looking for….and humorous! thanks bro, gonna go make some now….

  11. alternatively… put a half ounce of blue curacao liqueur into your glass then pour 12 ounces of beer into the glass and you’ll have a green beer. The liqueur will give the beer a bit of an orange flavor but it tastes pretty good, kinda like a lager and lime.

  12. FWIW, if you dye it with methylene blue + liquid B complex, it comes out just as bright a green as it goes in, so you can continue to be festive at the urinal!

  13. LOL…. this is ****ing brilliant stuff…. so simple. I am off to make vampire blood beer, red colouring….

  14. Well I once drank a green beer that was obtained mixing regular pale ale with blue curaçao! (Nothing irish about that, in fact it wasn’t even supposed to be… it was just a “specialty” that a pub in Italy, where I live, offered from time to time).
    Needless to say, not only the curaçao altered the beer’s taste a bit (making it somewhat sweeter) but it also got me pretty hammered, since it’s much heavier that beer, in alcohol content!
    Better use the food coloring, indeed!

  15. Brian of Nazareth says:

    I dunno, for many years I’ve been using just a SINGLE drop of blue food coloring in the bottom of the glass before I pour in a pale colored beer. It always turns out looking like the nice emerald green that you got with the green coloring. Go figure!

Leave a Comment