CZECHVAR for St. Paddy’s Day? Why not?

Today I am recommending a run-of-the-mill, somewhat hoppy and refreshing but basically Euroskunk lager.


Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and if you get some godforsaken notion today that you have to dye your beer green, you’d best choose a light beer instead of pouring all your mother’s Nutty Club green food colouring into a Guinness. With CZECHVAR you’ll only need a few drops, and the beer’s so mundane and uninspiring that you won’t feel you’ve wrecked it when that green tint starts grossing you out a few minutes after you’ve done the deed.


CZECHVAR is actually made by Anheuser-Busch, which explains a lot. A quintessential summer beer, it’s slightly hoppy and very fizzy, and it emanates a faint eau de Heineken.

Is it fitting for St. Patrick’s Day? Probably not, but on a day when one-quarter of all North Americans purport to have Irish blood, we can hardly get our underwear in a knot about drinking Czech beer. Personally, I’m going to pound this mediocre CZECHVAR for breakfast, get into some cheap Canadian rye for lunch, and then break into the mescal with the (green?) worm in it. By the end of it, for all intents and purposes, I’ll be green and possibly hallucinating leprechauns. And that, my fellow inebriates, is what March 17 is all about.

HERMANN’S DARK LAGER—Don’t dye it green, weirdos

My Fellow Inebriates,

The strike action this week at the kids’ elementary school amped up my daily terrors. Even though the girls prefer ponies to bears, I was often included in their games. Looking back on the week, I’m astonished that I don’t have a new orifice. But, like any good Stockholm Syndrome sufferer, I like the kiddies. They are only the third most terrifying thing of immediate concern, the others being:

  • Fluffy. Whether he’s luring away my girlfriend with his overwhelming fabric-softened fluffiness, radiating a disturbing sense of mental vacancy, or making objects go bump in the night (with his mind!), Fluffy is an eerie reminder that my Granny might still be with us.
  • Leprechauns. Is it just me, or are leprechauns not totally creepy? I’m freaking scared of leprechauns, people; they’re right up there with clowns in the horror hierarchy. And with St. Patrick’s Day looming, these little shoemaking freaks are starting to amass.

Don’t get me wrong. I was crazy about Granny, Ireland is wonderful, and I salivate thinking about drinking Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day. But Fluffy is all wrong on any continent (he made a picture fall down last night with his mind—OMG!), and leprechauns—yikes!

What the hell is a leprechaun anyway?

  • They are Irish Faerie folk—miniature, smart, and mischievous.
  • They like to play tricks.
  • They have wild music and dancing sessions in the woods at night.
  • Each leprechaun has a pot of gold, which it protects with magical powers.
  • They love moonshine (Poitín), but not as much as their sheep- and dog-riding cousins, the cluricauns, who are total drunks.
  • You can’t catch them, their gold, or their moonshine.

Like my fear of clowns, my fear of leprechauns is totally irrational and even less likely to get tested (unlike clowns, who will inevitably appear one day for a birthday party—shudder). But still they give me the willies. Could it be that I’m conflating the idea of leprechauns with…Fluffy?

Wanting a distraction, I started wondering what beer to dye green on March 17. As much as my dad and I like Guinness, it takes a lot of dye to turn it noticeably green—much like the filthy Chicago River—and, not knowing what’s exactly in green dye, I thought a lager would turn green more effectively while involving less chemical roulette.

But the only lager in the house was HERMANN’S DARK LAGER. This certainly wouldn’t do for St. Patrick’s Day, it being a red-tinged cola-black, so I reckoned I’d better finish it pronto lest on March 17 I forget its unsuitability, toss half a cup of dye into it, and need to be hospitalized with tartrazine-related conniptions.

HERMANN’S is perhaps the most acclaimed beer in the Vancouver Island Brewery Pod Pack, with at least ten medals to its credit, including three Silvers in the World Beer Championships. Crafted according to Bavarian tradition, HERMANN’S captures the old-world style yet offers mainstream characteristics. Countless Vancouver Island pubs pour HERMANN’S on tap because of this artful balance.

As mentioned, it would take a considerable amount of green dye to effect a noticeable change in HERMANN’S. It has a lovely ruby cola appearance that hints at its Bavarian heft. The predominant scent is malt—generous and inviting, with toffee, cocoa, and espresso slightly offstage. The taste doesn’t disappoint: toasty malt with some nuts and that oh-so-subtle coffee undernote. The finish is pleasantly drawn-out with just enough bitterness. This is something Vancouver Island Brewery products excel at—producing a wonderfully smooth arc from sweetness to bitterness with some very well harmonized flavors.

As comfortingly heavy as HERMANN’S is, it doesn’t lack refreshment. I could picture myself pounding a six-pack now or in the summer, although it would be a shame to drink it too fast.

But it’s not a candidate for St. Paddy’s Day; turning it green would be a hopeless task. And that’s okay. Perhaps dyeing beer green is on a par with dyeing the Chicago River green—a dipshit idea for nitwits (myself included) who don’t give a crap about consuming extra chemicals.

And, strangely enough, in Ireland they don’t dye beer green for St. Patrick’s Day; it’s a North American practice. (Surprised?) The Irish don’t do half the shit we do for St. Patrick’s Day. They usually just make some cabbage soup or something.

And there are leprechauns there every day, people. OMG! That must be why Fluffy Bear is so freaky; he acquired magical powers living in Ireland and now he’s terrifying everybody here in Canada.