Cameron Read has long been against adding green dye to the beer made at Edmund’s Oast Brewing, where he is the director of brewing operations.
“It’s something I said I wouldn’t do,” he said. “Green beer is something I used to drink in college at cheap bars. It always seemed hokey or something.”
Ahead of this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities, he changed his mind.
On Thursday, he helped add green food coloring to three kegs of Edmund’s Oast blonde ale called Something Cold. The green version has been coined Something Gold.
“I think people get a kick out of the novelty of it,” he said. “It’s festive and unusual. People like green stuff on St. Patrick’s Day, it turns out.”
While Read decided green beer is expected at St. Patrick’s Day parties, other brewers or bar managers say it’s too cliché.
You won’t find green beer, for example, at Charles Towne Fermentory.
“It’s not our style,” Justin Slotnick, Charles Towne assistant brewer and taproom manager, said.
“A lot of the times green beer ends up being Budweiser with green dye, which is not really an authentic way to celebrate an Irish holiday,” Slotnick added. “It’s just Budweiser with food coloring.”
Instead, the brewery is tapping a dry Irish stout, which is called Mudlark and is a “tip of the hat” to Guinness, on Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day. The beer, which comes with notes of chocolate, burnt caramel and lightly-roasted coffee beans, will be served on nitro and in a cask. Additionally, Desayuno will be serving corned beef tacos and other Irish fare.
“For us, we work hard on our beers and their flavor, taste, smell, appearance and adding food coloring to it is just not something we want to be part of,” he said. “A lot of people want to go out and do something for St. Patrick’s Day, so we wanted to be part of it somehow.”
Fam’s Brewing Co. is also going the stout route. You can try its Dark Luck Irish Stout starting at 1 p.m. Sunday while listening to live music from Keys & Co at the brewery on Folly Road. Dockery’s isn’t offering green beer either; it will tap an Irish red ale, named Dewey Weitman after the brew master’s Irish great grandfather, on Saturday. The party will also include traditional Irish food such as bangers and mash and corned beef and cabbage.
General manager Chuck Isenberg said that approach feels “more genuine” than the option of adding green dye to domestic beer.
Low Tide Brewing is another place that’s pro green beer. It started pouring its Shamrock Kolsch, a green-dyed easy-drinking golden ale, noon Friday. The brewery on John’s Island will be serving the green beer with gold glitter added to it on Saturday and Sunday, along with its Don’t Black Out Dry Irish Stout.
Edmund’s Oast also brewed a dry Irish stout for the first time ever for this weekend’s festivities.
Still, Read said, having green beer available is part of the fun.
He added that the green dye doesn’t change the way the beer tastes.
“I think St. Patrick’s is another excuse to get together with friends and have a few beers,” he said. “Any excuse to do that is a good one.”
He hopes patrons take St. Patrick’s Day easier than he did during his days at College of Charleston, when he drank “way too many green beers.”
“I’m trying to think of a way to say it that’s not gross,” he said. “I remember cleaning our bathroom the next day. There was a lot of green coloring.”
Earlier this week, he learned another St. Patrick’s Day-related lesson: To wear gloves when dying beer.
“My hands are still green,” he said.