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.
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.
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:
I definitely preferred the look I got with the green food coloring. But both versions were equally tasty.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!