By Jon Long our newest beer writer. Check out his bio here. Welcome Jon!
Everyone knows the usual routine for St. Patrick’s Day: Don whatever green clothing you have, go to your favorite bar, throw back a few pints of Guinness, snifters of Jameson’s or…ugh…down a few green beers. If this sounds anything like how you spent the past few St. Patty’s Days, then it is a good thing you are reading this article!
The locales compiled below are not who will have green beer…again, ugh…Belfast car bombs or Irish music played by a DJ. These are THE places to be on St. Patrick’s Day in Chester County. Here you will find incredible live music, authentic Irish entertainment and some of the best beer, sans green food coloring, around. There is also a bit of beer knowledge thrown in to boot.
McKenzie Brew House
240 Lancaster Ave.
Malvern, PA 19355
McKenzie’s has an entire weekend of festivities planned for this popular Celtic holiday. The major happening of the weekend for the Brew House is, of course, a brew. On Saturday, March 15, they will be unveiling their O’Reilly’s Irish Red Ale.
The Highland Piper and a troupe of Irish Dancers will be putting on two shows Saturday through Monday. Show times are roughly 5 and 8 PM daily.
To accompany the fine music, dancers and beer, McKenzie’s chefs have put together an authentic Irish menu that centers on lamb stew, shepherds pie and corned beef and cabbage.
Kildare’s Irish Pub
18 W. Gay St.
West Chester, PA
Kildare’s has St. Pat’s Day activities covered, whether its live music you’re seeking (Hit the Bottle Boys), kegs and eggs – always a crowd favorite – or traditional Irish dancing (at 2 PM on the 17th). With activities all weekend and through St. Pat’s Day, the $20 VIP weekend pass and all the goodies that come with it are a guarantee to get your Irish on.
124 W Gay St.
West Chester, PA 19380
On Friday, March 25, from 7 to 10 pm, Celtic Connection, a three-piece Irish band, will be performing. Irish food and beer specials will run Friday through Monday. Owner Pat Ryan welcomes everyone to “come on in and have a pint.”
Molly Maguire’s Irish Pub
197 Bridge St.
Irish food and drink specials will be available all weekend. A bonus of live music all weekend starts Friday with Echo (10 PM to 1:30 AM), followed Saturday with O’ Tasty (same time) and Random Blonde takes the stage Sunday (9 PM to 1:30 AM). Be sure to get there early on St. Patty’s Day because they’re ready to go starting at 8 AM with daylong entertainment, including the Irish folk group Celtic Spirit, traditional Irish music with Oliver and closing with the King Brothers.
“Perfect pints are flowing all weekend and we have entertainment for the whole family,” said Wendy Schreiner, Molly Maguire’s manager. On the 17th, keep your eyes out for Irish dancers and a live leprechaun.
The Blarney Stone
1227 West Chester Pike
West Chester, PA
The Blarney Stone is one of the older Irish pubs in Chester County, so you know their holiday celebration will not disappoint.
“We have truly emulated the feel of an authentic Irish pub from the warm atmosphere and the friendly and personable staff to a hearty pub menu, there is not a better place to be than the Blarney Stone; Slainte!” said Steven Schwenk, general manager. The bands Fitch and The Glensiders will be starting the weekend off Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, by playing their brands of Irish music. The fun doesn’t stop there. For the card sharks out there, Sunday brings the “Follow the Leprechaun” poker tournament, beginning at 7 PM sharp.
All these events lead up to the big day. The Blarney will have a heated tent adjacent to the bar to expand their capacity. Why do they need to make sure they have extra room, you ask? They need to accommodate the crowd for the main event, the McDade Irish Step Dancers. The dance program begins Monday afternoon around 3 PM. Make sure you get there early for good seats; you do not want to miss this! For the rest of the day…and night, there will be a DJ on hand helping you dance the night away.
Along with all of the weekend entertainment there will be an expanded Irish menu and drink specials.
Iron Hill Brewery
3 West Gay St.
West Chester, PA
Iron Hill is known by many for their fine beers, though it isn’t exactly a place most people would think to go on St. Patrick’s Day; but, perhaps this will change. They currently have one great beer on tap, the Irish Dry Stout (more about it below) and soon another great beer will be joining it as their features for St. Patrick’s Day. On Saturday, March 15, Iron Hill West Chester will be tapping their Irish Red Ale just in time for you to enjoy it with your Irish and wanna-be-Irish friends. Coupled with their first-rate beers, Iron Hill will be offering a first-rate Irish dinner, every night in March.
The [Beer] Road Less Traveled
Close your eyes (you will need to open them briefly to read the next instructions, but you get the idea). Now think of St. Patrick’s Day…now think of beer on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sure many of you had Guinness pop into your head. I don’t blame you; they have turned St. Patty’s Day into a full blown marketing bonanza. I have no problem with the black Irish beer but I have committed myself to helping you traverse the beer road less traveled, so it is my honor-bound duty to extol the virtues of alternative beers and open your eyes to a wider beer universe, if just a little bit at a time.
If you are looking for something different to drink this St. Patty’s day, visit any of Iron Hill Brewery’s locations to give the Irish Dry Stout a try. It is available in cask (hand pumped and served at just a shade cooler than room temperature) or through the traditional tap. It has a bite to it reminiscent of coffee as it first hits your tongue, seeming to dissolve in your mouth leaving almost no aftertaste.
For those of you inviting friends and family into your home for the holiday here is a way to stay authentic while saving money. Guinness can get a bit pricey, so to quench the thirst of the masses pick up a case or two of Murphy’s Irish Stout. It comes in Pub cans with the nitro-ball for the authentic pour just like Guinness, but costs about $10 less per case than the Irish stand-by.
The Final Jig
There you have it. Everything you need to know about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chester County! Well, maybe not everything, I’m sure there is a columnist out there somewhere who can help you find the perfect bright green T-shirt with a double entendre slogan on it, but it ain’t me!