Acclaimed beer writers Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John grace these pages once again with their It’s Your Round column.

This month they take a wry look at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, green beer, green shawarma, Brendan Gleeson, and the like…



Jordan St. John: Robin, it’s the middle of March, and I feel like I’m forgetting something important

Robin LeBlanc: Oh wow, your annual ear scrub! Has it been another year already?

JSJ: I don’t know how they get that dirty, but sometimes you have to bring in a professional.

RL: Indeed. Anyway, what’s with all the four leaf clovers everywhere?

JSJ: Well, Robin, it’s that quaintest of Irish traditions: St. Patrick’s Day. You remember St. Patrick, don’t you?

RL: Oh yeah! That feller with the stick who threw out all the snakes what weren’t really snakes!

JSJ: Robin, it’s 2023. Metaphor is useless as a mode of informational conveyance. What were they really?

RL: Well, there were never snakes in Ireland and snakes are a symbol for evil, and for saints that generally means your pagans, heretics, and general religious undesirables.

JSJ: So you’re saying Patrick got credit for something he never done did, and we celebrate that by having a laugh down the pub?

RL: If you want to make it sound like the time my uncle pretended he was a war hero to get free movie tickets, then yes. It’s also the time where we break out into offensive Irish accents and celebrate harmful stereotypes.

JSJ: Jaysis!

RL: Mary and Joseph!

JSJ: And other blasphemies. If I’m honest, I don’t really get the dyeing the river green thing. And I don’t really get the dyeing the beer green thing. And I’ve never had a shamrock shake. However, if there’s an excuse to get down the pub and cause a small amount of mindless destruction, I’m all for it.

RL: Well, it’s a little more than that. The beer industry doesn’t call it “amateur hour” for nothing. The streets get a little messy this time of year.

JSJ: Who hasn’t, of an evening, consumed ten pints of Guinness and several shots of Jameson in the name of banter and ended up leaving half a Shawarma in a bus stop?

RL: Well, point taken, but in Toronto there’s thousands of young people doing that at the same time and the half a shawarma in the bus stop is often half digested and tinted green.

JSJ: Okay. That does sound like a nightmare of probabilistically complicated outcomes and a pretty bad hangover. What would you recommend for the aging set? You know. The people who want to drive out some snakes, but mostly the smaller, non-venomous kind.

RL: Honestly, I’d pick up a couple of cans of stouts from a brewery, take them home, make a nice stew, and watch a darkly humorous Irish film starring Brendan Gleeson.

JSJ: For me, it’d be O’Hara’s Irish Stout from the Carlow Brewing Company and The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. It has a marvellous soundtrack from Calexico, which texturally emulates the mid range malt character of the stout itself, with its gentle notes of dried fruit and molasses, playing above that roasted barley that provides chocolate and coffee.

RL: Honestly The Guard is my pick too. Otherwise my second favourite film with him is Paddington 2. But if we’re going to talk beers… honestly I might get hell for this, but I have a soft spot for Guinness. It’s a comforting, affordable beer that’s light, dry, and has hints of chocolate and molasses. Otherwise O’Hara’s is a perfectly good substitute.

JSJ: If you wanted something a little stronger? I’d maybe go with Wellington Russian Imperial Stout and In Bruges. The 8% alcohol will almost certainly warm you even if you’re an inanimate object.

RL: And if you decide to watch The Banshees of Inisherin, you may as well just switch to whiskey at that point. Conceptually I’d suggest Writer’s Tears would be an excellent pairing.

JSJ: Ah, poor Jenny.

RL: Well now. All that talk of the Irish is making me want a drink. What’ll you have, Jordan?

JSJ: Whether it’s Murphy’s or Beamish or Guinness or O’Hara’s, I’m just glad we’ve actually got a St. Patrick’s day this year. Slainte, Robin.

RL: And may the good lahrd keep you.