Where it all came from
In 1914, in New York City, a coroner's physician named Dr. Thomas Curtain took a break from poking dead people to grab a pint on St. Paddy's Day at the Bronx's (now closed) Schnerer Club of Morrisania. While there, he used what was most likely a fabric or textile dye to turn the flow of beer green for a day -- which, unsurprisingly, became a big hit with the swill-happy crowd. The event was even written about in the Evening Independent, shortly after. And obviously, the rest is boozy, emerald-tinged history.
While most beer-dyers steer clear of Curtain's original recipe (probably because textile dye isn't the safest thing to consume), it's not all about using basic food coloring to get that shamrock shine. In the past decade, some craft brewers have tried to come up with their own green beer recipes, without the aid of traditional dye. In 2005, Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery used the protein-rich, blue-green algae spirulina (NOT the DJ for Salt n' Peppa) to give a German lager a nice, green sheen. But it was just a one-off. And in 2013, New York's Captain Lawrence Brewery tried their hand at making a spirulina-infused beer, cheekily calling it "Gimmicky Green." Which also never really stuck.
But, since we all don't have the brewing power to infuse our beers with a protein-rich algae, we normally have to turn to food coloring at home. And that's OK. But the problem is, most of you are doing it wrong. It has nothing to do with green food coloring (!) Here's how to dye your beer green, the right way -- without toxic dye, spirulina, or green food coloring