Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twelve Beers for Christmas

The time is here to start picking beers for your Christmas cavorting. Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking about what to stuff into those beer stockings this holiday season.

The beer for when you’d rather take your dessert in liquid form.
You’ve gorged yourself on the holiday ham to the point where you’re breathing has become labored. Then out comes dessert. Another bite might cause you to reveal the contents of your gut to those assembled. You wouldn’t want that to happen. But you don’t want to miss dessert, either. In moments like this, grab a bottle of  Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout. It’s a gooey, sweet stout with booming notes of milk chocolate. Perfect for dessert. And besides, liquid foods like beer are an aid to digestion. How’d we ever allow such essential knowledge to slip from our minds?
(Available at Festival and Ski's)

The beer for when your palate needs wrecking.
Some people just can’t cook. They do it anyway. Especially during the holidays. Being the polite sort, you end up shoveling heaps of their grub into your inner being. When the deed is done, your mouth is left with a tar-like taste that could be permanent. That’s the time to crack open a bottle of Scream IIPA from New Glarus. It’s fruity hop flavors and blistering bitterness will scour that bad taste from your moth. At 9% ABV, it may even cause you to do something rash. Like going back for seconds.
(Available at Festival, Gardina's, Pick N' Save and Ski's)

The beer to share with that person who thinks your beer fixation is just an elaborate excuse to guzzle more alcohol.
Aunt Tilly isn't fooled by all your high falutin’ beer nonsense. She believes you’re nothing but a common drunk. This Christmas prove her wrong. Sit her down with a bottle of Anchor Brewing’s Saaremaa Island Ale and explain to her the art of beer. As you pour the pretty, golden ale, tell her how the brewer travelled to Estonia to capture the native yeast used to ferment this beer. Point out it’s delicate flavors of spiced apple, ripe pear and clove. Tell her about the beer’s modest strength of 6% ABV. Sink the hook by slipping her a slice of smoked gouda while she imbibes. Lay it on thick enough and you might just gain another drinking partner. A lush like you needs as many of those as possible.
(Available at Gardina's)

The beer for that Lite beer drinker who refuses to try anything new.
Some people will not budge. They’re the ones who sputter non-sequiturs like, “I don’t like that dark stuff, it’s too bitter!” You’ve tried to relieve them of their ignorance. Now it’s time to have some fun with it. Evil Twin’s Molotov Lite comes in a big blue can with the word “Lite” in prominent bold type. Behind the trademark infringement is a double IPA with loads of tropical-fruit hop flavors. Hand your “Lite” beer fanatic one of these. Tell them you bought it just for them. Encourage them to take a big slug. Then watch their face twist like it’s being reflected in a funhouse mirror as the bitterness darts into their jowls. Laugh uproariously at their misery. You can’t be nice all the time during the holidays. You’ll turn to mush.
(Available at Gardina's)

The beer for that person who’s ready to go all the way in.
You know the type. They like Spotted Cow. They buy Blue Moon from time to time. They’re ripe for your type of holiday evangelism. Preach the word by pouring them a foaming glass of Dual Artisanship, a dry-hopped saison brewed by Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis. The delectable pineapple flavors created by hops mingling with fruity, Brett funk aren’t over imposing, but at the same time, they aren’t exactly mild. A single glass ought to do the trick. Welcome your new initiate to the realm of good beer.
(Available at Gardina's)

The beer for the guests who prefer wine.
You know next to nothing about wine. But there’s wine drinkers coming over to your house for the holidays. What to get them? Beer, of course. A good lambic ought to do. Boon Kriek is a Belgian lambic fermented on cherries. It’s wine-like notes of cherry, oak and spice will be familiar to the wine-o’s palate. And the corked and caged bottle will make them feel right at home. It certainly beats the shit out of the Miller Genuine Draft they served you the last time you visited their house.
(Available at Festival)

The beer for the Untappd addict.
You’ll probably be doing time with a few of these insufferable people over the holiday. They take one sip from a beer and before it’s done dribbling off their chin, they have the phone out registering their latest taste on Untappd. It’s not the type of behavior that should be encouraged it could be fun to see them soil themselves as they flail to earn their badge after that first sip of Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12, a/k/a Black Oil. This rare beer is an Old Ale made by the Harviestoun Brewery of Scotland. It’s aged in malt whisky casks and comes in numbered bottles. It’ll please you’re anti-social, social network fanatic to no end.
(Available at Gardina's)

The beer for the road.
If you’re traveling this holiday season, you can take a jug of home with you by picking up a growler of Vanilla Vixen, Fox River Brewing’s holiday seasonal beer. This year’s Vixen is excellent and it’s probably something your out-of-town hosts haven't had before.
(Available at Fratellos)

The beer for when the celebrating is going to go on for a while.
I can’t say I’m much of a fan of the so-called “session IPA” but I guess they do have their place. As the celebrations stretch on you can give your liver a reprieve by soaking it with something a bit-less alcoholic than the traditional seasonal brews. Lagunitas Brewing’s Daytime IPA is one of the better of this ilk. It’s a good, hoppy beer with just enough mouthfeel to keep if from being watery. At 4.65% ABV you can drink this in multiples without making a complete fool of yourself. You can save that for later in the day.
(Available at Festival)

The beer for the guest who’s already had too many, yet insists on having another.
It happens, especially this time of year. One of your guests gets a little too happy and wants to be happier still. Here’s the beer for these awkward moments. John Smith's Extra Smooth is an English pale ale brewed by The Caledonian Brewery of Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s just a wee thing at just 3.8% ABV, but its creamy texture (courtesy of the nitro-widget can) and light hop and caramel flavors make it seem more substantial than that. And the pint-sized can will keep your burdensome guest busy for a while. Just make sure to shoot some video while they’re in their compromised state. You’ll have fun with that with later.
(Available at Ski's)

The beer for that late-night wave of nostalgia.
When the guests have left and you want just one more as you sit quietly in the afterglow of time spent with family and friends. Anchor Brewing revived the Christmas beer tradition with the first release of their Christmas Ale in 1975. This years version is their 40th and it’s smooth spicing and toffee flavors are the perfect compliment to the season. The years go by so fast. Take some time to reflect on how lucky we are to be beer drinkers in this time and place. Years from now, people will look back on us with envy.
(Available at Ski's)

The beer for the morning after.
The hangover: it happens to the best of us. When the morning after is rougher than you anticipated it being, there’s little you can do other than ease your fall. Delirium Tremens is a Belgian strong ale, named for the extreme version of your predicament. The little pink elephants that dance on its label will make your hallucinations seem innocent. At 8.5% ABV, it’ll halt your jitters and make you feel like your old self. As your significant other mocks your sorry state, croak the words of the immortal Oscar Wilde. “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Then try to go sleep it off.
(Available at Ski's)

Happy Holidays, beer fiends!


  1. Nicely done. I prefer to stick with a Mountain Crest from Minhas, but these sound interesting enough to try once.

    1. You must be from Canada. In our neck of the woods they call it Mountain Creek!