Beer Guide: Branch out from your go-to brew

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Most people have something to drink on St. Patrick's Day - and a good number have something different to drink.

Even the most hardcore American lager fan tends to ditch his Budweiser or Coors Light in favor of the Guinness, Harp or Killian's flowing from beer tents across the city. Often it's as much a day for exploring as for imbibing.

That's a good thing.

Nothing against our nation's straw-colored swill, but a world of spectacular suds awaits those willing to take a chance. To push your Irish-inspired alcohol adventure even further, here are our suggestions for admirers of each of the common St. Patty's styles.

If you like: Guinness

Try:

Beer: Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Brewery: Wells & Young's Brewing Company

Type: Chocolate stout

ABV: 5.2 percent

wellsandyoungs.co.uk

You might think a glass of beer boasting two servings of dessert would be drudgingly heavy, thick or syrupy. Not so in this case. Though it bears a slightly sweet, roasted coffee flavor, Young's has a deceptively light body topped with creamy, delicious foam.

Beer: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Brewery: North Coast Brewing Company

Type: Russian imperial stout

ABV: 9 percent

northcoastbrewing.com

Once you've taken a liking to the taste of roasted coffee, kick things up a notch with this maltier, hoppier and far more potent stout. Many feel North Coast brews the quintessential Russian imperial because of its rich burnt flavors, strong maltiness and delightful aroma of alcohol.

If you like: Harp Lager

Try:

Beer: Dortmunder Gold

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Company

Type: Dortmunder

ABV: 5.8 percent

greatlakesbrewing.com

Fans of Harp's smooth, crisp flavor and bready sweetness will enjoy this year-round offering from the Buckeye brewers up north. Your sips will hit clean and refreshing - a trademark of the classic style that originated in Dortmund, Germany. This is a beer you can drink in the summer heat around your more snobby friends.

Beer: Small Craft Warning

Brewery: Heavy Seas

Type: Imperial pilsner

ABV: 7 percent

hsbeer.com

This is a pale, straw-colored lager - but not like any you've tried before. Nestled within truly invigorating carbonation are citrus flavors, pronounced hop character and a more powerful kick than you'd expect. To experience a yellow beer with both spice and spunk, it's a pirate's lager for you.

If you like: George Killian's Irish Red

Try:

Beer: Smithwick's

Brewery: Guinness Ltd.

Type: Irish red ale

ABV: 4.5 percent

smithwicks.ie

Though many think Killian's is an Irish red ale, it's in fact a rather bland amber lager produced by Coors Brewing Company. Your first step in this category is to pick up Ireland's quintessential red ale: Smithwick's. Notice its ruby hues and a slightly bitter finish emerging from roasted barley.

Beer: Scottish Ale

Brewery: Columbus Brewing Company

Type: Scottish ale

ABV: 5.6 percent

columbusbrewing.com

Once you're accustomed to the complexity of an Irish red, try moving on to a Scottish ale, a type touted for complex flavors. CBC's year-round offering is a good introduction and features five imported malts, which give the beer a robust flavor and thicker body.