Leading up to St. Patrick's Day, it's nonetoolate (nare too early) for a note on the Irish Stouts.
Guinness from Dublin is, of course, the standard -- a black, dry, smooth quaff like no other and a meal unto itself. My absolute favorite beverage, after water; each pint a priviledge & symbol of hope. My most memorable conversations always seem to have panned out over that creamy head. But some wizened pallets feel it has lost some of its body over the last 25 years.
Here's some useful information for taking your Irish Stouts with food...
By far the best-known black beer the world over, Guinness is considered by some to be the standard by which all other stouts are judged. Others, like myself, may suggest that its character has been dulled over the past decade or so. Regardless of your view, however, it is still a fine, dry, appetizing pint.
Poorer County Cork cousins to that Dublin-brewed juggernaut, Beamish and Murphy's represent two different takes on the Irish-stout style — the former more roasted and firmer than Guinness and the latter more malty and a bit chocolaty. For oysters on the half-shell or smoked salmon, choose Beamish or Guinness, but with roasted or grilled meats from pork to beef, try the Murphy's.
...from Epicurus: read the full article for other recommendations such as Welsh and American Irish stouts.
Personally speaking, my first impression of Murphy's was of its richness -- which put me off. But I didn't think of it with a steak. I'll be seeking Beamish out at my local beer-savvy supermarkets and let you know how things progress.