How To Make Green Beer

Updated by Lindsay Mattison

March 17th is rapidly approaching, and that can only mean one thing: St. Patrick’s Day. At its core, this day serves as a time to honor the death of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. However, in our modern era, it’s also become an opportunity to rejoice in all things Irish. You’ll find people celebrating in different ways, from eating corned beef, cabbage, and colcannon to dancing, being merry, and (of course) drinking beer. Traditional Irish beers like Guinness Draught Stout and Harp Lager are always a popular addition to the day’s festivities, but there are a surprising number of good craft beer options to choose from, too.

Ireland’s nickname is the Emerald Isle, so it’s no surprise that the color green makes an appearance on this fun-filled holiday. The green in the Irish flag represents Irish nationalism, so donning green on St. Patrick’s Day is a great way to celebrate Irish heritage. It’s also not uncommon to dye your beer green for the occasion, but you might feel stumped as to how to make it happen. Never fear, green beer lovers! We chatted with Hal Mooney at Your Beer Friend Craft Beer subscription to get the inside take on how to make green beer this St. Patrick’s Day.


How do I make green beer?

Mooney told us there aren’t any naturally occurring green beers, but it’s fun and relatively easy to make green beer at home. There are a few different ways to do it, but the prettiest way is to pick up some food coloring. One or two drops of green food coloring will turn a very clear, golden lager into a vibrant green drink. For a more natural option, try adding half a shot of wheatgrass to the beer, a few drops of spirulina extract, or a scoop of matcha green tea powder. Matcha is a form of green tea that uses powdered tea leaves, so it blends in easily with water (or, in this case, beer). Be aware that using too much of any of these coloring options can create a bitter flavor in the beer, so start with a little bit and add more as needed to get the color you desire.

Mooney recommends using a clear pilsner or lager, like Harp Lager, and avoiding hazy beers here, like cloudy IPAs or unfiltered witbiers. With the added coloring, the beer tends to become a little swampy, so stick to clear or filtered options. You’ll also want to be careful not to dye your hands while adding the food coloring.


Should you drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day?

The answer to this is a resounding yes! Mooney says St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year that it’s acceptable to drink beer with food coloring, so you should take every advantage of it. If you don’t want alcohol, he suggests grabbing a non-alcoholic lager from Athletic Brewing, like Athletic Lite. You could also pick up a clear soda like cream soda or Sprite and try dying that green instead.

What’s the best beer for St. Patrick’s Day?

If you insist on avoiding green beer for the holiday, look to classic Irish beers instead. You can’t beat Guinness when it comes to dry Irish stouts, but Mooney also likes American-brewed Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout. It has a slightly higher alcohol content, but it’s dark, rich, and velvety — just like Guinness.

Your Beer Friend Craft Beer subscription boxes are sourced fresh each month, so there will definitely be some fun options for the big day. Last year, they included Lough Gill, an Irish craft brewery that's cranking out some interesting beers, along with a nitro stout and a golden lager with green food coloring.


What foods pair best with green beer?

Mooney says that more than half of the beers he drinks are best enjoyed with food, so you should definitely plan some food pairings for St. Patrick’s Day. The wine world has a saying—“what grows together goes together”—which also works for the beer world. In short, eat food that’s from where the beer is from, so when you’re drinking a French wine, you should pair it with French food.

For St. Patrick’s Day, pair your favorite Irish beer (and green beer) with Irish foods like corned beef and hash, beef stew, or shepherd’s pie. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to pair your green beer with a sidecar of Irish whiskey , either: Mooney recommends his favorite, Green Spot .

Today’s your lucky day! Save on our collection of St. Patrick’s Day-themed items with Cratejoy’s St. Patrick’s Day sale from 3/16-3/19.