It’s the Holiday Season, which means family and friends will be gathering together to share meals, exchange gifts, and simply enjoy each other’s company. For craft beer enthusiasts, this is also the time of year to spread the craft beer gospel by sharing your favorites and even breaking out those beers you’ve been saving for that “special occasion”. I was curious about what others in the craft beer community would be drinking over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I reached out to several fellow bloggers to find out what they would be drinking. I had two questions for them – Do you have any traditions around craft beer you drink during the Holidays? and What will you be drinking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? I am very appreciative of everyone taking the time to respond and the thoughtful commentaries I received. If there is one thing for certain, those of us who consider ourselves to be appreciators of great beer, we also love discussing and sharing great beer! You’ll find links to each blog by clicking the hyperlinks in the section titles. I also hyperlinked to the beers mentioned where I was able. As a special treat, if you keep reading to the end, Tim Dennis and Brian Hewitt from nationally syndicated Beer Guys Radio, were kind enough to give me their selections for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I reached out to a cross section of folks around the country and, as I mentioned, received a great response. I did attempt to contact several ladies, because I would have loved to have their perspective as well; however, I did not receive any replies as of publishing time. Hope I might hear back from some of them at some point. If any ladies read this, I’d love to hear from you too! Please leave us some comments in the comments section.
B. Kline – THe Beer Thrillers (Central PA)
B. Kline lives in Pennsylvania, the state with the highest annual per barrel craft beer production in the country according to the Brewer Association. No doubt he has access to some great beer. At their family gatherings, some of B. Kline’s family members get involved by having a mini-bottle share. His cousin can be counted on for bringing the Troeg’s Mad Elf.
B. Kline replied, “I usually grab a mix-six of Christmas related beers from some higher-end local breweries like Aslin, Burley Oak, Troegs, and some locals like Boneshire Brew Works, Tattered Flag, etc, and we sample through them and discuss what we both like.”
A good variety of quality craft beers to share is always a crowd pleaser. Something for everyone.
Craft Beer Joe – Cincinnati, OH
Family bottle shares were a continuing theme. Joe is blessed because not only does his dad, brother-in-law, and father-in-law enjoy beer for the Holiday’s, so does his wife! His brother-in-law comes in from out of town and provides the out-of-state selections. If you were lucky enough to be invited to his house for Christmas, you’ll find some outstanding and unique selections.
Joe explains, “My dad loves to bring out a few beers that he’s been cellaring. In past years, it has been beers like Founder’s CBS and Braxton’s Dark Charge among others. They are almost always large bottles of high ABV beers to provide a little extra Christmas cheer.”
When he visits with his in-laws, he is treated to his father-in-law’s seasonal favorite MadTree’s Thundersnow Scotch Ale (8.5% ABV). “This beer fits Christmas perfectly and is a great way that we can celebrate together!”, Joe enthusiastically wrote. What a great father-in-law!
Ryan – Hoppy Boston (boston, MA)
How many of you can identify with Ryan and his wife? You are up late Christmas Eve putting together toys, gifts, etc. and readying the family room for the ultimate reveal Christmas morning. What better time for the annual cellar beer raid! That’s the annual tradition at Ryan’s house. What’s on the tap list this year? “This year I am going to finish my last two bottles from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project over the holidays,” wrote Ryan. Curious about Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project? Unfortunately, this once popular brewery is no longer around, but you can read Ryan’s review here for a little nostalgia.
Andrew Smith – Coachella Valley Beer Scene
I was fortune to catch up with Andrew Smith, freelance writer and creator of the Coachella Valley Beer Scene blog out of Coachella Valley, CA. Andrew will be reaching for some serious classic beers during the Holidays. Christmas Eve calls for Russian Imperial Stout. “On late winter nights, Imperial Stouts always seem to fit the bill, and I have a couple in waiting. North Coast BA 25th Anniversary Rasputin. Rasputin was one of my first beer epiphanies and I’m really looking forward to this special release,” Andrew replied. He’ll also crack open The Bruery’s So Happens its Tuesday – a Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.
Andrew admits Christmas Day is a little hectic; so he reaches for another classic – “I have family around. I’m helping with the dinner and doing various things around the house. On a day like this, I don’t want to be taking photos, posting on untappd, taking notes. So it’s usually a six-pack of something dependable on a day like this. I love a west coast IPA, and I also love to pick the right beer for the occasion. That said, it will probably be a seasonal classic in Sierra Nevada Celebration.” Well played Andrew, well played.
Franz Hofer – Tempest In A Tankard
There is nothing like getting perspective on Christmas Holiday libations than one from someone well traveled. Franz and I recently connected over our fondness for Vienna Lager and its fascinating history. He brings us a different perspective on this Christmas Holiday. This was so well written, I didn’t dare edit it. Here is what he wrote me:
“It’s a mere five days till we find out who’s been naughty and nice. Since Krampus already took care of the naughty ones a few weeks back, we’ll stick with the lucky imbibers. Maybe they’ll find that piece of homebrew equipment they’ve been dreaming about, or perhaps they’ll find a rare bottle of beer from a different province, state, or country. Maybe that bottle will contain a fine wine, a bourbon, or a scotch. Whatever the case, the lucky imbibers will celebrate light amid the darkness of winter with something warming. We always do.
To take the edge off the cold nights of those December weeks around Christmas and Twelfth Night, I’ve held an annual celebration with friends that began life in the 1990s as a Glühwein party. Nothing bespeaks the holiday season like the smell of cloves and oranges mingling with warm wine. And these warm winter beverages connect us with a history most of us have long forgotten: warm beer, warm cider, and warm cocktails made from each. In the past decade, I’ve begun exploring these other “lost” traditions, serving everything from Glühbier to wassail to flip.
For me, holiday imbibing is an eminently “catholic” affair. That means I’ll drink anything and everything, depending on where I find myself and with whom. If I’m in Northern Italy like I was with my partner-in-crime a few years back, I’ll fill my glass with plenty of Barolo and Barbaresco, and drink a grappa or two as the meal’s winding down. Earlier this decade we took a road trip to Kentucky. Plenty of good beers there, but we drank more bourbon than anything else. Ten years ago in the Rheingau and Mosel area of Germany, it was Riesling all day and all night. In other years, it might be a beer or two we’ve been aging. In those cases it’s fairly simple: pull out three or four beers and enjoy.
This year? I’ll be having Tafelspitz (a Viennese specialty) with old friends. I can’t think of too many things that’d go better with Tafelspitz than a rich and brooding Blaufränkisch from the Burgenland in Austria. But that’s not to say I won’t be drinking beer to celebrate holiday cheer. I don’t have too many of my beloved barrel-aged Imperial Stouts squirreld away here in Vienna, but I’ll be stocking up in the next few days on Dubbels and Quads from the local bottle shop, along with every Doppelbock I can get my hands on, including Aecht Schlenkerla’s Eiche Doppelbock.“
Doppelbock especially sounds like a great choice! I may have to rethink my own selections.
Dave – Florida Beer Blog
Florida is another great state for craft beer. It is ranked 5th in barrels of craft beer produced annually (Brewers Association). So I contacted Dave of the Florida Beer Blog to his take on the beers he’ll be drinking during the Holidays. This Christmas Dave will be going with some seasonal craft beers.
Dave wrote: “This Christmas, my beers will definitely be seasonal. Just the wrong season, as I have a Halloween RIS from Zydeco Brewing in Tampa (Electric Funeral) and a coconut-laden Festbier from Concrete Beach in Miami (Floridafest).“
Who says you have to do things the conventional way? That’s a great thing about craft beer, the only thing that matters is great beer and great company.
I listen to a number of craft beer focused radio shows and podcasts during the year. It’s how I keep my cool during my brutal commutes in Atlanta traffic. Beer Guys Radio is by far my favorite, not just because they are local. Tim and co-host Brian Hewitt are entertaining, informative and do a fantastic job of incorporating guests into the show. These guys are down to earth and both were kind enough to give me their selections for Christmas Eve and Day.
Tim Dennis – Co-Host & Executive Producer – Beer Guys Radio
Tim wrote me that he will spend time doing bottle shares with friends during the Holidays and take advantage of as many great selections as he can. He says the selection changes annually, but you typically find classics like St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, N’ice Chouffe, and local selection Three Taverns Feest Noel. This year you may find Sam Adams White Christmas Witbier as well. Regardless of the rotating selections for sharing, Tim’s go to for the season is Highland Brewing of Asheville, NC’s Cold Mountain . “One that I always make sure to get is Highland Cold Mountain, it’s a been a favorite for several years.” That’s an outstanding take!
Brian Hewitt – Co-Host, Beer Guys Radio
If you’ve listened to many of the Beer Guys Radio podcasts, you know that Brian brings a strong beer selection game. Christmas time is no exception. Tim and Dennis just recently posted their annual 12 Beers of Christmas episode, it is well worth the listen. You can find the podcast link here.
Brian’s thoughts on Christmas Holiday beers – “As you may already know, we just did our 12 beers of Christmas show. My plan is to mix it up with some of my favorites from that show, like Anchor’s Merry Christmas and Brasserie d’Achouffe’s N’Ice Chouffe. Then, before I lose the ability to operate a bottle opener, probably crack open something like a Three Taverns Helms Deep, Orpheus Stouts All The Way Down, or Variant Mocha Crazy Grandma in the evening. Who am I kidding? I will open them all.”
As far as my selections go, I am fairly traditional; but do prefer some variety. Christmas Eve I have saved some 16 oz. cans of Reformation Brewery’s Declaration Imperial Stout (9.7% ABV) and Arches Winters Night Munich Dunkel (5.5% ABV). Christmas Day I’ll have Ayinger Bavarian Pils (5.3% ABV) and Anchor Merry Christmas Ale (6.9% ABV). Finally, I’ll cap off my Christmas Day evening of with a bottle of Allagash Curieux Bourbon Barrel Aged Tripel (10.4% ABV).
So there you have it. Hopefully, if you have not already made your beer run for Christmas and need some ideas, now you will be well equipped to handle the task. Thanks again to all who provided responses. The craft beer community is full of great people. Please be sure to check out their blogs and podcasts.
We’d love to hear what you’ll be drinking over the Holidays, so leave a comment below.
Please Drink Responsibly. Until next time, Let Us Drink Beer! Merry Christmas!