Beer and Pavement

Session #58 – A Christmas Carol

Posted in Beer, The Session by Zac on December 2, 2011

This month’s session idea comes to us from Ed Hardy at Beersay and here’s what he had to…er…say:

The idea for me was based loosely around the visits of three ghosts to Ebenezer Scrooge, but relayed in a post about the beers of Christmas past, present and future.

What did you drink during Christmas holidays of old, have you plans for anything exciting this year and is there something you’d really like to do one day, perhaps when the kids have flown the nest?

So, we’re going all holiday up in this joint. I do love a good holiday ale loaded with frankincense and myrrh. Or something like that.

Xmas Past
For a beery memory to share, I’m going to go all the way back to last year. It’s not as much about what beer I drank, but rather about the silliness that resulted in my consumption. After a beer or two and a glass of homemade egg nog, we sat down for Xmas Eve dinner with friends and family. My wife makes the greatest Polish feast imaginable every Xmas Eve. It is easily my favorite meal of the year. I prefer to celebrate said meal with a nice beer. For last year’s feast, I chose Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper.

Then, things got a bit weird…

For whatever reason, our guests that evening were not into drinking beer with this particular dinner. So, I had the entire 750 mL bottle to myself. You can probably imagine what happened after that. And if you imagined that I would go outside intent on knocking the snow off our satellite dish with snow balls only to eventually turn to climbing onto the roof in order to clear the snow by hand, then you would be correct.

Xmas Present
I’m not exactly sure how to handle this one as it is only December 2nd, meaning that this Xmas actually qualifies as Xmas Future, but whatever. I’ll at least tell you my plan. The start of our season usually happens on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6). Friends throw a big party with a giant, flaming bowl of mulled wine. It’s good stuff, but I always show up with some seasonal beers. Other than the Mikkeller (again), I currently have a Jolly Pumpkin Noel Calabaza, but I think I’ll take a sixer of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, assuming there’s more in the stores.

After that, my beer club has a Holiday Party/Yankee Swap/Ugly Sweater Contest planned. I’ll bring something nice to drink (possibly the Allagash Odyssey I scored at last year’s party), possibly a Boulevard gift set for the swap, and I don’t know about the sweater.

As far as our own Xmas festivities, I’ll take it easy this year on Xmas Eve. There will be no drunken roof climbing this year. I always enjoy a bomber all to myself on Xmas Day. Other than that, it will be typical beer consumption for me.

Xmas Future
I have lots of ideas for future Xmas. Let’s list them, since that’s kinda my thing this month:

  • Xmas Homebrew – I want to brew a special Xmas brew on Xmas Day one of these years. Of course, it will probably have to be something that isn’t necessarily Xmas-y as it will take time for fermentation and such to occur. Ideally, I’d like to brew something big that can be enjoyed during the following Xmas as a way to start a tradition.
  • Travel – One of the best Xmas celebrations I ever had was the year we visited family in California. I’d love to do a beer-themed Xmas trip one of these years. Maybe Colorado, San Diego, Asheville, Portland, Chicago, or even Belgium would all be great trips. Someday, someday…
  • Neighborhood Tasting – I’ve always wanted to do a tasting with my neighbors. They all like to imbibe and have a good time. I’m the resident beer nerd. They’re always asking me about craft and homebrewed beer. I always thought it would be cool to have them all chip in and I’ll buy a load of beer for a tasting. There’s a neighborhood party and progressive dinner, a beer at each stop would be ideal.
  • Beer Gifts – My wife always gets me cool and unique gifts for Xmas, but one of these years I’m going to get her to give the gift of beer. I’m thinking glassware, all-grain equipment, a beer trip, or some membership to a special mail-order club or something. Even a stockpile of beer books would be cool.
  • Sharing Craft Beer with My Daughter -My three-year-old is obviously not ready for beer, but I’ve given her tiny tastes here and there. I look forward to the day I can sit down and share a beer with her on special occasions. The day we crack open a special beer I’ve been cellaring could be a lot of fun. Here in Missouri, it’s legal to serve your kid alcohol within your home. I’m not talking about getting plastered. I’m talking about sipping on a great beer and enjoying the aromas and flavors within. It will be a valuable experience where  I can teach her about good craft beer. By the time her peers are all doing keg stands, she won’t want to take part unless it’s good beer.

Well, those are my Xmas beer thoughts for the past, present, and future. Be sure to check out the other posts in the Session over at Beersay. Also, have yourself a happy holidays and all that. Cheers!

Top 5 Beers in My Cellar

Posted in Beer, Top 5 by Zac on November 14, 2011

The following list is based on my anticipation for cracking open the following beers. I may have some beers that are rated better or that I may actually like more, but this is more of a list that highlights some oddball beers and beers I just can’t wait to open. Some I’ve had already, but some will be new to me once I open them in the coming months or years.

5. Allagash 2010 Odyssey and 2009 Interlude – The Odyssey was scored in a Yankee Swap last Xmas. I have no idea what’s inside. The Interlude was found while on a business trip in Richmond, VA. Again, I have no idea what’s inside. Anything barrel aged and produced on a small scale by one of the more respected American craft breweries has me intrigued. Now, if they’re terrible, the brewery’s mystique will fade. However, I suspect these beers will be pretty awesome.

4. 2009 Alaskan Barley Wine – Someone told me that they had this beer and vintage at a beer festival recently. It was the hit of the fest according to this one guy, but I trust his opinion. That’s why this beer’s days are numbered and I’ll be cracking it open at some point this winter.

3. Never Forget Barley Wine – This was the barley wine I had planned for my daughter’s first birthday. I didn’t get around to brewing and bottling until a few months after her birthday, but quite a bit of it has been consumed, leaving me with only two bottles. At some point, I’ll open one to see what happens. The other may have to wait until a significant birthday. 18? 21? We’ll see.

2. Cantillon Lou Pepe – This one I just bought this past week. At $22, several factors are at play. First, I could only justify buying one as I had already purchased three bottles of something else that day. So, I will have no idea what it tastes like. This may mean that this one has a short stay in the cellar/closet. Second, the high price point makes me hesitant to just open it for any old reason. Regardless, it will be saved for a special occasion, of which there will be plenty with the oncoming holiday season.

1. Stone Vertical Epic Series – With 11/11/11 happening, another in the series of beers not meant to be consumed until after 12/12/12 hits stores this week. My sister’s birthday happens to be December 12th and the goal is to consume as many of these as possible – in a commemorative glass – on or more likely after her birthday next year. We’re now one year and beer closer. I currently have ’08-’10. My sister grabbed a bottle of ’11, but I may grab another when it arrives here next week just to be sure. It will be a surprise no matter what the beers taste like. Hopefully they all do stand the test of time.

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