6 Irish Beer Brands You Can Buy in the U.S.
These Irish beer brands are some of the best examples of centuries-old brewing traditions, and they're available for purchase in the United States.
Beer is perhaps one of Ireland’s best-known contributions to world of alcoholic beverages. The Emerald Isle is home to over 100 breweries, which is quite impressive for a country roughly the size of Ohio. Despite all the beers that these Irish breweries produce, not all of them are available to purchase in the United States. No need to feel discouraged, though. We did some digging around to find several Irish beer brands you can get in the United States, including a cider.
When most people think of Irish beers, Guinness is usually the first name to pop up. Guinness is one of the oldest breweries in Ireland and has broad international reach, often coming up with unique brews for various international markets. The brewery’s signature beer is its dry stout, which is a strong, dark beer that is less sweet than its American and British equivalents. Guinness stout is famous for its creamy head that’s almost as thick as whipped cream. While being an Irish brand, Guinness does establish breweries in different countries. As such, Guinness beers available in the United States are typically made here and many non-stout varieties of Guinness may only be available in the United States. Recently, the brewery has released different styles of beers, including ales and American-style blondes. Guinness is available in most liquor retailers in the U.S. If you want to see who carries a particular style of Guinness beer, the official website has a detailed search tool here.
Like Guinness, Smithwick’s has been around for a few hundred years and boasts producing Ireland’s oldest ale. The brewery is now owned by Guinness but still maintains a separate identity centered around its signature Irish red ale. This is a variety of pale ale common in Ireland and known for its reddish hue. Like most pale ales, it is made with an assertive quantity of hops. However, it’s not as bitter as an IPA.
Harp is a lager, which is actually not a traditionally Irish style of beer, but rather a variety that originated in Germany. This style is very popular in mainland Europe, and in the 1960s more drinkers in Ireland were switching over to this lighter beer as a change from the heavier Irish-style beers. Guinness released Harp as an Irish lager alternative with the help of a German brewer. It is now considered its own separate brand (although still owned by Guinness) and is hugely popular in Northern Ireland.
Murphy’s Irish Stout is the competitor to Guinness’s ebony-colored brew. While its global popularity doesn’t come close to Guinness, it’s not for lack of quality. This stout is a great alternative for those who prefer something a little lighter and not as bitter as the big G. It is known for its caramel notes and some have even compared it to chocolate milk both in flavor and mouthfeel. Originally, the brewery used fresh water from the nearby River Lee, which lent the stout its unique flavor and aroma. While currently owned by Heineken, this stout is still made in Cork, Ireland.
Officially known as Carlow Brewing Company, this is one of the largest craft brewers in Ireland known for its O’Hara line of beers named after its founder, Seamus O’Hara. Unlike some of the breweries mentioned above, O’Hara’s is a fairly recent addition to the Irish beer landscape, having been founded in the 90s. O’Hara has since been at the forefront of the Irish craft beer revolution, even cofounding the Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival in 2011. Since its founding, the brewery has rolled out a wide array of beers, including traditional Irish varieties like stout and Irish red, which are commonly available in the U.S. Unfortunately, its more inventive creations are still not as widely available this side of the pond.
While not a beer, Magners cider has been an integral part of Irish drinking culture since its founder, William Magner, created it over 80 years ago. Around 17 varieties of local apples go into producing Magners hard cider. As well, the cidery uses in-season fruit that falls from the trees when ripe rather than keeping apples in storage for long periods of time. The resulting brew is truly a connoisseur’s cider that feels like a champagne but maintains the various apples’ subtle aromas. Magners keeps things simple and as close to tradition as possible, only offering three varieties of cider: original, pear and berry.