We’re on the last stretch of the holiday season: Hanukkah starts today, Christmas is at the end of the week, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, and then we’re into the great unknown of 2012. We’re probably all wondering the same thing: What beer should I crack open at my holiday gathering?
The only way to handle such a lofty question is by breaking your beer into three categories, assuming your gathering involves dinner: apéritif, dinner drink and digestif.
I’m bouncing around from Oklahoma to Kansas City this Christmas, so I don’t have the benefit of my local bottle shop. Still, lots of great breweries reside in the Dust Bowl states, including Oklahoma City’s COOP Ale Works. I like to keep my pre-dinner drinks light on ABV, mainly because I plan to have a few, and then a few more drinks with dinner and beyond. COOP’s Native Amber is a perfect fit: Its toasted biscuit malts, tangerine-pine hops and clean finish are sure to spark an appetite.
Dinners are more like feasts this time of year, so avoid the complications of rigid beer-food pairings and opt for a versatile dinner drink. For me, that means a few bottles of Boulevard’s Long Strange Tripel for the table. This 97-point Belgian-style tripel’s dueling pepper and citrus will engage any bite, and its vibrant carbonation is the perfect palate cleanser. When in doubt, go with a tripel.
This is your opportunity to bring out the big guns. You’re stuffed, feeling cozy and want something to sip during quiet conversation by the fire (or TV, Christmas tree, menorah, etc.). This year I’m traveling with a bottle from my cellar: Lost Abbey The Angel’s Share 2009. By now this beer’s smoothed out, and packed with sweet vanilla and chocolate, oaky tannins and a light bourbon bite.
So that’s my plan. What beers are you cracking open during the holidays?