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How to make Green Beer: the fun, festive recipe for St. Patrick’s Day

Total time: 5 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist

In the United States, green beer is synonymous with St. Patrick's Day. This brilliant emerald green drink can be found virtually everywhere come March 17th.

Green beer is incredibly easy to make – all you need is a light-colored beer and some green food dye. You get the same crisp, refreshing taste of lager or pale ale but with the festive addition of bright green coloring.

Green beer was created in the early 20th century in New York, and since then, it has become a staple drink to serve on St. Patrick's Day. The beverage is so popular, that since the 1980s, there's been Green Beer Day, which falls on the Thursday before spring break. If you're hosting a St. Patrick's Day party, make sure to have plenty of green beer on hand!

What is Green Beer?

Green beer is made by adding green food coloring to light-colored beer. Although it's traditionally served on St. Patrick's Day, green beer isn't Irish, it's American.

Green beer was first made in 1914 by Thomas Hayes Curtin, an Irish-American doctor who dyed beer green for a St. Patrick's Day celebration at his Bronx-based social club, the Schnerer. Green beer quickly caught on as a popular, festive way to celebrate St. Paddy's Day.

What is the Best Beer to Make Green Beer?

Light lagers are the best type of beer for making green beer, but you can use any type of beer with a light color. The lighter the beer, the less food coloring you'll need – if you add food coloring to darker ales, stouts, and porters the green color won't show up.

Food Coloring Amount for Making Green Beer

You don't need much food coloring to make green beer. About 2 to 3 drops per glass should do. However, feel free to add more for a richer emerald green color.

How to Make Green Beer

It's super easy to make green beer. Just add a few drops of green food coloring to a glass, pour the beer on top of it.

You can stir if you'd like, but it's usually not necessary. Add more food coloring until you get the color you want, and enjoy!

Tips for Making Green Beer

While you can't make green beer ahead, you can certainly do a little prep to make things easier for yourself. Add the food coloring to the glasses. When you're ready to start serving your guests, add the beer.

Most food coloring is naturally vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Double-check the label if you have any concerns.

Use a pilsner, light lager, or pale ale as a base for your green beer.

Can You Make Green Beer Without Food Coloring?

While it's possible to make green beer without food coloring, you will change the flavor of the beer in the process. You can add a tablespoon or two of wheatgrass, a little spirulina, or matcha powder to your beer. If you go this route, add a little of whatever ingredient you're using at a time so you can get the color you want while preserving as much of the flavor of the beer as possible.

These other options aren't recommended unless you don't have any food coloring and can't run out to the store to pick some up.

Can You Store Green Beer?

Beer tastes best fresh. Once opened, it'll start going flat. If you have leftover green beer, use it to cook with or pour it down the drain.

light beer
12 ounces
green food coloring
2 drops

How to Make Green Beer

Put the food coloring into a glass.

Pour the beer into the glass.

Stir, and add more food coloring until the desired color is achieved.


You don't need to chill the glass, but it will help keep your beer nice and cold on a hot day.

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