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History of Green Beer

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Green beer has become a staple of the increasingly popular St. Patrick’s Day celebrations the world over. Just about any bar you walk into on Friday, March 17th will be serving the festive favorite. But where did the tradition come from, who invented it? What’s more, what’s the right way of making it because it isn’t with green food coloring.

More than likely the tradition of green beer started with the Irish tradition of dropping a clover in one’s drink then drinking it all down for good luck. But the first recorded incident of beer being turned green occurred in New York City in 1914.

It was a typical St. Patrick’s Day at the Schnerer Club in New York City. The festivities kicked off with ringing of a large green bell, everything was either green or decorated with green, the booze flowed and Irish songs were being pelted out with drunken enthusiasm. It looked to be another typical and successful event until Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician, presented the group with bright and vibrant green beer.

An Evening Independent reporter at the event asked the doctor how he was able to turn the fermented beverage green. The doctor stated it was one drop of Wash Blue in an undisclosed quantity of beer. (NOTE: Wash Blue appears to be a bluing agent possibly used for dying fabrics/textiles — probably not what you want to use to turn your beer green.)  The reporter’s article about his discovery was featured in the March 26th, 1914 issue of his newspaper.

To make a green beer fitting of Dr. Curtin and the Schnerer Club, don’t add green food coloring! Add blue coloring because blue mixed with yellow make green. Be careful though, one or two drops go a long way!

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