Green Beer: Taste Tainter or Tactful Tradition?

The Weal conducted an in-depth study to find out the truth behind this controversial topic. Was the myth busted? Not really…

This March 17 as bar patrons vigorously jig to fiddle music while wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Kiss me, I’m Irish, almost everyone will raise an emerald-hued brew amidst cries of “sláinte!”

It’s a tradition that most find quirky, if not a little gimmicky.

Cole Sunderman, a first-year power engineering student at SAIT, hasn’t gone out for St. Patrick’s Day for a few years, but he admitted to past consumption of green beers.In general, the 28-year-old finds green beer to be “weird.”  He also said that on St. Patty’s day he drinks Guinness, a dark stout, which doesn’t facilitate the annual pigment change.  Sidelining his preferences, Sunderman said he wouldn’t say no to a shamrock-inspired ale.

“Beer’s beer.”

Klay Munroe, also a SAIT power engineering student, goes out every year on St. Patrick’s Day. 

“It’s pretty fun to drink [green beer] on St. Patty’s Day,” Munroe said.  For the 22-year-old, it’s green beer, all night, start to finish.

The only non-endorsing quip Munroe made was that “It makes going to the bathroom the next day kind of weird.”

 Still, there are people who claim that green food colouring affects the taste of the beer, regardless of how they feel about consuming alcohols colour-kin to antifreeze. 

“I don’t know [if it tastes any different],” Sunderman said. 

Munroe agreed.  “I can’t tell the difference,” he said.

“It tastes the same to me.”

Cole Sunderman (left), a SAIT power engineering student looks on as classmate Klay Munroe(Right) tests his tastebuds in the green beer blind taste tes in Calgary on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (Photo by Keane Straub)

Of course, we can’t just take their words at face value. Determined to put taste buds to the test, we established a rigorous screening process where selected individuals participated in an extensive study in our state-of-art laboratory.

Okay, it was more like we rounded up a few volunteers, along with Sunderman and Munroe, with the promise of beer and silly hats in exchange for participation in a blind taste-test in our secret testing facility.

The results were both varied and hilarious. 

With a facial expression that could only be described as intensely observant, Sunderman methodically sampled three different beers in an attempt to detect the presence of green dye. Despite his previous claim, not only did he guess correctly each time, but he was able to tell that the first beer had more dye in it than the third beer.  This leads us to believe that he either possesses a miraculously refined palette, hidden super powers, or that he was a beer sommelier in a past life.

“You gotta just trust your gut,” Sunderman said after he was told the results.

Munroe, who went second, was our rapid-fire contestant, sampling his beers and giving a final consensus immediately. 

“Damn,” Munroe exclaimed when he was told he only guessed right once.  Still, he said his results were, “not so bad,” and said he was impressed with Sunderman’s abilities.

The remaining results were lackluster at best. In one case, a contestant gave two different answers to the exact same cup. We were left with the impression that unless you’re blessed with a quirky supernatural talent, it’s impossible to detect green beer by taste alone. 

The choice is yours this St. Patrick’s Day, but whether you drink green beer or plain, Irish whisky, or something else entirely, please drink responsibly, and arrange for a safe ride home.

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