12 Days of Beer Gifts

IPA_craft-beer-baskets-for-men-and-women_HR_Fotor_grandeI grew up singing with my classmates and family a song about partridges in a pear tree, and a bunch of other weird gifts over a 12-day span leading up to Christmas. In those days, I was perplexed why the song didn’t include things like action figures and video games, while strongly endorsing go-to presents like eight maids a-milking. How much milk does one person need?

As an adult, I could still skip the milk maids, but I wouldn’t mind some beer. So let’s leave out the pipers piping and the ladies dancing. Let’s concentrate on the beer lovers drinking.

Here are 12 wet and wonderful beers and beer gift packs that should make that beer lover on your list light up like the proverbial Christmas tree or menorah.

  1. Beer of the Month Club: That’s right, once a month, the recipient will be blessed with a twelver of a select craft beer, oftentimes a hard-to-find a limited release, chosen by craft beer lovers at AmazingClubs.com. You can choose a full year or three-month, six-month or seasonal memberships. Packages start at $33.95 per month. When that person’s birthday rolls around, maybe you can look into a liver-supplement-of-the-month club.
  2. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale: A time-honored classic, Winter Welcome is a winter warmer best consumed while snuggling in front of the fire. Made with Fuggle and Golding hops, it is actually a malt-forward beer made just for the winter season. Bear skin rug optional.
  3. Sweetwater Festive Ale: Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewing Company has been spreading its tentacles, and this is one of those that is making the rounds. A strong ale brewed for “winter coat season,” it is rife with black, chocolate, Munich and other malts witha taint of cinnamon and mace to keep you warm and toasted all winter long.”
  4. Deschutes Brewery Jubelale: A garnet colored strong ale, this one also features special artwork each season – this year’s is original fiber artwork by Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer, showing a winter landscape with a pair of sledders. The beer within reveals hints of chicory, dried fruit and toffee notes with a hoppy kick to finish. Put another log on the fire.
  5. Sam Adams holiday porterIPAs of the U.S. Gift Basket: Here’s a different spin on a holiday gift idea, since not everyone likes the spicy, thick Christmas beers that are the stuff of tradition. If the person on your list just wants to hop it up, this is a selection of India pale ales from Coronado Brewing Company (New York International Beer Competition 2014 California Brewery of the Year), Peak Brewing (NYIBC 2014 Maine Brewery of the Year) , Breckenridge and Ballast Point, as well as the oh-so-delicious Jai Alai from Cigar City Brewing in Florida. This on also comes with a variety of snacks to pair with the beers.
  6. Schlafly Christmas Ale: This is another winter warmer featuring sweet caramel malt, with notes of orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves. Inspired by holiday classics like wassail, it’s a surefire way to ring in the holidays with nary a chill in the bones.
  7. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: First brewed in 1981, this is a true American Christmas tradition, although it isn’t a winter warmer – this is actually credited with being an early version of an American IPA, made famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas. Celebration is indeed a bold and intense beer, featuring Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops. If nutmeg isn’t your favorite beer lover’s thing, this might be the ideal gift.
  8. Great Lakes Christmas Ale: This beer is brewed with honey and spiced with ginger and cinnamon and is poised to pair nicely with that fruitcake your mustachioed aunt will inevitably bring to the family gathering. Roasted barleys make this one a warmer, and Mt. Hood and Cascade hops give it a spicy kick.
  9. Samuel Adams Winter Favorites Variety Pack: Sometimes you just can’t choose. Enter Samuel Adams and its 12-pack of winter goodness, featuring two each of the classic Sam Adam Lager, Winter Lager, Old Fezziwig Ale, White Christmas and (prepare to start salivating) Chocolate Bock. This is a great one to pack to your holiday work or family gathering for sharing or, hey, for hoarding at home with your sweetie. No judgment here, just prepare for a wide variety. (There’s also Samuel Adams Holiday Porter, sold separately, if you’re feeling more focused.)
  10. Rogue santas_private_reserveRogue Santa’s Private Reserve: This is the one Santa probably drinks. A double-hopped red ale that is a variation of the well-regarded Saint Rogue Red, this one goes straight for a big roast finish and a hint of spruce for just a nod to the holiday season. Made from a wide and eclectic variety of malts and hops, plus proprietary Pacman yeast, it’s moderately bitter at 65 IBU and imminently quaffable at 6 percent ABV. It’s Christmas: the redder, the better!
  11. Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper: Talk about a winter warmer – this is an imperial porter to the max, with a flavor emphasis on dark cocoa and roasted coffee, with sweet crystal malts and light hops. This is a big one at 10 percent ABV, but imagine how good Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are going to taste dunked in this Christmas winner? You can give it as a gift, but how could you let go of it? It’s OK to be a little selfish at Christmas.
  12. Three Floyds Alpha Klaus: A cousin to Three Floyds’ popular Alpha King, this beer pours jet black with a nose of chocolate, pine and citrus. The chocolaty flavor profile also gives way to a surprising hoppiness, setting it apart from many winter warmers. Many say it drinks more like a black IPA than a Christmas porter, but that makes it no less festive. And at 6 percent ABV, there’s no reason the beer lover on your list can’t enjoy more than one.

This post was originally published by AlcoholProfessor.com.

Beer to Get You Through Thanksgiving


Courtesy of Minnesoul

Thanksgiving is a traditional time for sharing, eating and giving thanks. It’s also a swell time to watch football and drink beer all day. Let’s face it: You don’t have to go to work, but in many cases you do have to hang out with your relatives all day. For some of us, you need to drink.

Hey, a farmer in New Hampshire feeds his turkeys beer. If the birds are drinking it, we should be too. So, here are a few recommendations for your Thanksgiving get-together.

In general, here’s how most beer resources see Thanksgiving beer drinking: You start the day (say, at kick-off) with lighter, easy-drinking beers that won’t fill you up. For the meal itself, you go for something a bit stronger, preferably something slightly bitter to help enhance flavors in main dishes. And after dinner, enjoy a big, rich, sippable stout or porter.

As noted, not only do the beers help you enjoy your gigantic holiday feast, they also help you endure some of the less … festive … social aspects of it.

When the day gets started, consider enjoying a refreshing Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Organic Lager. It’s not exactly exotic, but it is one of the more solid and dependable lagers out there. At 5.0 percent ABV, it’s light enough to be a reasonable session beer, but it has enough of a kick that will sure make it easier for you to listen to your Uncle Randall prattle on about his latest surgical procedure. What’s an ileostomy again?

Also consider having a light, but flavorful cider on hand for those who might not go for something as relatively complex as the Samuel Smith. A Magner’s is a solid middle-of-the-road choice that is not too sweet and not too tart, but still has a pleasant fruity flavor. Plus it will give your annoying sister something to put in her mouth to help curb how much she talks about her awesome boyfriend, who never seems to show up to these family gatherings.

For a traditional, roasted turkey dinner, how about a marzen-style brew? Great Lakes Oktoberfest is one of the best choices of its kind in part because of its mild finish. Plenty of spice and noble hops, but the flavor won’t get in the way of your grandma’s dried out stuffing and that dirty-sock aftertaste.

If you want to throw a curveball in there, see if you can find Harpoon’s Winter Warmer, which has plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, and will distract you from Mom’s constant complaining about football and her never-ending chorus of, “I thought the parade was on” – even though it’s 4:30 in the afternoon.

beer - young's double chocolate stoutAnother one to consider for dinner is Harpoon’s Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale – yep, Cranberry beer. It doesn’t get much more Thanksgiving than that. After the 6.5 percent ABV of The Great Lakes, the Harpoon beers sit at 5.9 percent each, and that suppertime buzz will come in handy when Dad invariably decides to unbutton his pants at the dinner table to “make more room.”

And finally, once the plates have been cleared and the passive-aggressive sniping has died down under the weight of a collective tryptophan hangover (a tryptophangover?), that’s when you bust out a classic: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Have you ever wrapped your mouth around one of these? Holy cow. Made with dark chocolate and chocolate malts, this isn’t a beer to go with dessert, it is dessert. And it’s way better than that crappy, months-old fruitcake Aunt Bitty brought with her. (You just know she got it on sale last January at Wal-Mart.)

So as the day winds down, and your right-wing cousin Iver, who also somehow is an insufferable hipster, drones on about Obamacare, socialism, Al-Qaida and his plan to move to British Columbia in 2014, you can sip your Young’s with a warm, full belly while you stifle eye-rolls and wish he’d shut up and move already.

Oh, and if the relatives stay past 9 p.m., just break out the tequila. At that point, passing out is your only salvation.

This post was originally published by AlcoholProfessor.com.