Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Beers of Christmas Past

If you’re given to haunting the local beer depots you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the shelves are heavy with holiday beer these days. That’s nothing new in Oshkosh. Holiday beers have been a seasonal tradition here ever since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. When full repeal arrived on December 5, 1933, both Peoples Brewing and the Oshkosh Brewing Company immediately released beer for the season that was stronger and more flavorful than their standard brews.

The seasonal beers soon became an important part of the breweries’ yearly output. Each year, sales of beer in Oshkosh would invariably fall-off with the end of summer and the Oshkosh brewers saw the holiday brews as a way to re-ignite the interest of beer drinkers during the slump of the cold months. It was a tradition that lasted almost 40 years.

Peoples Brewing described their Special Holiday Brew as a “High-Test Beer”. It a was full-bodied, higher-alcohol, lager brewed with Munich malt and aged for an extended period. The basic description of the beer would put it firmly within the Oktoberfest style. Down the street from Peoples Brewing, the Oshkosh Brewing Company made their Holiday Brew with a somewhat heavier body, yet lighter in color. Oshkosh Brewing boasted about the “warming” quality of the beer and its distinctive hop flavor. The beer was probably akin to what would be considered a Maibock or Helles Bock.

Unfortunately, all of those beers are gone. Now, all that’s left are the labels. Here’s to the beers of Christmas past.

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