Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Bars busy from top o' the morn'

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Charles Fritsch, with Maloney's Pub in Delhi Township, checks beer taps Tuesday in preparation for St. Patrick's Day.
Photos by GLENN HARTONG/The Cincinnati Enquirer

Drinking beer on St. Patrick's Day is akin to eating turkey on Thanksgiving for millions of Americans who celebrate each March 17 by visiting their local taverns.

The tradition has made St. Patrick's Day one of the biggest beer-drinking holidays of the year and one of the most profitable for bar owners nationwide.

"St. Patrick's Day is the biggest day of the year for us, by far," said Bob Kasee, who owns Maloney's Pub in Delhi Township and Maloney's East in Anderson. "We open at 11 and the traffic just doesn't stop. There will be 75 or 80 people in here by noon, and nine out of 10 of them will be drinking green beer."

While Ireland is known for its Guinness and Harp, Kasee said most St. Patrick's Day revelers consume American brews dyed the color of the day - green.

And Maloney's will have plenty of company in serving mass quantities of the green spirits, according to one of the area's leading beer distributors.

Damien Spangler, special-events coordinator for H. Dennert Distributing Corp. of Linwood, said the distributor makes about 100 kegs - about 1,500 gallons - of green beer each year for Greater Cincinnati bars to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

"We inject about an ounce of food coloring into each barrel," Spangler said. "The trick is to not turn yourself green and end up looking like a leprechaun when you're finished."

Spangler said as many as 80 percent of his customers request the emerald treatment on St. Patrick's Day and also increase their orders for such traditional brews as Guinness and Killian's Irish Red.

"In general, beer sales are great at this time of year," he said. "We increase volume everywhere, pretty much with all our products. A lot of bars get green beer, with the majority of it going to the Irish pubs."

Of course it's not only the Irish who enjoy the holiday.

"Even though we're a Scottish bar, we do a lot of business," said Mary Hanson, who manages Nicholson's Tavern & Pub downtown. . "Last year, for instance, St. Patrick's Day was on a Monday, and sales were up 50 percent from a usual Monday."

But the American tradition of celebrating St. Patrick's Day isn't just about the beer.

About 110 million U.S. consumers will do such things as wear green, cook traditional Irish dishes or dine out, according to the National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group.


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