March is here and we are making our way to St. Paddy’s Day. Friends and family begin preparing the traditional corned beef, cabbage, and Irish soda breads; whether you’re Irish or not. As a brewer, this time of year always meant “Ah crap, are we going to have to make green beer again?”

It may be that green-colored beer is the nation’s oldest beer trend; it’s certainly the most colorful.  Sorry hazy IPA, your 20 year stretch is cute and all, and let’s not even mention the poor brut IPA that barely hung around for over a year, but you are no match for the 114 year old reign of turning perfectly good beer green.  As far as Americans go, we love our trends, and this is one to outlast them all.


Of course, the term green beer is used scientifically to describe beer that is not fully fermented or aged, also known as young beer.  Colloquially people all over the world associate the term with green pints.  It is an American trend (not Irish!) that began in 1910 in Spokane, Washington where a local bar served shamrock colored beer to patriotic Irish immigrants and anyone else wanting to consume it.  Four years later, inspired by newspaper clippings from Spokane a few years prior, Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin used a laundry whitener called “Wash Blue” to dye beer green. “Blueing” of white laundry has been in practice since the 1800’s as a way to optically bleach fabric and make it appear the “whitest white”.  Now most of us know that beer at its lightest color is yellow, and what two primary colors make green?  That’s right, yellow and blue!  Similar to ridiculous internet trends of today where people ingest things not meant to be inside a human body, Dr. Curtin added bluing chemicals to the beer to turn it green.  No one got sick, which seems like a miracle based on the history of poor human choices.  Thankfully, regular food grade food dye is the chemical of choice for adding color (and joy) to St. Paddy’s themed pints. And now we all get to enjoy green beer.


As a brewer, I took pride in the beer I made and served to people, even if it wasn’t my favorite style or flavors.  I knew it was always well made, meticulously crafted, biologically stable and most importantly a damn good pint. Is adding blue food dye to delicious brews a gimmick?  Yes.  Was it a tradition that felt like a small token of normalcy to have for customers when the world felt like it was about to end 4 years ago?  Yes.  Did I sneakily add edible glitter to some of the green kegs with my brewer colleagues at the time for an extra fun nod to the craziness of life?  Hell yes.  Did that pint look weird and amazing and still taste like the original beer?  Thank St. Paddy, yes.

-Kristen Ewer, PFI Customer Success Manager/Brewer