When thinking of St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend, a March tradition celebrated with some vigor in Montana (yes, they still throw one hell of a party in Butte), many fishers conjure up an image of a frothy Stout.
Fair enough, though several of our brewmeister friends love to remind us every year that there is no official beer of St. Patrick’s Day (it’s a religious holiday without ‘traditional’ ties to a particular beer) and one even argues that Guinness makes up less than 1% of the US beer market and less than a third of Irelands.
Every year about this time we seem to end up talking about a host of other Irish Beers, though this year a British friend has suggested exploring Magners Ciders (Bulmers to the Irish). Hard ciders now reportedly account for more than 12% of Ireland’s beer market; the traditional dates back decades and is gaining momentum. From Magners web site –
Many a cider drinker has got themselves into a muddle over the history of Magners. Probably because it’s called Bulmers in Ireland, but has absolutely nothing to do with the HP Bulmers which is sold in England. But stay with us now and we’ll explain all.
The date is 1935. A talented young lad called William Magners sets out with a dream of making a cider that will make his name famous. So he goes and buys himself an old cider press and some oak barrels, and begins making cider in an old brewery.
After only two years, the cider becomes so popular that he needs help to keep up with demand. Enter an English cider maker called HP Bulmer who agrees to invest in the company, and onto the bottle goes Bulmer’s name. Then in 1949, Bulmer and Magners part company, but the Bulmers label sticks.
Fast forward to 1999 and the cider is so popular it gets exported. But HP Bulmers owns the name Bulmers outside Ireland. So the decision is taken that it would be fitting to use the name of the young lad who – all those years ago – wanted to make his name. And so it was that Magners Original Irish Cider was born.
There’ll be some hard cider in our cooler when it’s pushing 100 on the Missouri this summer.