St. Patrick’s Day’s green beer celebrates 102 years

Dramatic unveiling of St. Patrick’s Day favorite was made by Irish American coroner in the Bronx in 1914.

Although we’re pretty sure that no Irishman worth his salt would dare to have a sup of this stuff, the amazing fact is that St. Patrick’s Day’s green beer is celebrating its 102nd anniversary this year.

Why?!! You may well ask.

The origin of this monstrosity of food coloring is New York. In 1914 a New York City coroner named Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin unveiled his invention at a Bronx social club.

A beer the color of shamrocks.

According to Philly.com an eyewitness said that at the great unveiling, 102 years ago, “everything possible was green or decorated with that color and all through the banquet, Irish songs were sung and green beer was served.

"No, it wasn't a green glass, but real beer in a regular colorless glass. But the amber hue was gone from the brew and a deep green was there instead."

The report came from Charles Henry Adams, in his syndicated "New York Day By Day" column, filed one week after the unveiling.

He wrote, “All the doctor would tell inquisitive people was that the effect is brought about by one drop of wash blue in a certain quantity of beer."

The “wash blue” was also, in fact, poison, an iron powder solution used to whiten clothes.

Regardless, 102 years later green beer prevails and this Irish American’s invention continues - but now a few drops of green food coloring are used to give beer an emerald hue, instead of the poisonous wash blue. 

Curtin’s family emigrated from County Carlow when he was just five years old. He was educated in New York and earned a medical degree. By the age of 22 he was a surgeon and worked as a coroner’s physician for the Bronx.

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