Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 5
Get your share of holiday beers
Oct. 31, 2002
Now that holiday beers have started to arrive at our favorite beer store, we
are reminded that not all of us are lucky enough to live close to a quality
beer bar that puts many of those beers on tap. Such good fortune makes it
easy to sample this year's Pyramid Snow Cap or Geary's Hampshire Ale without
buying a 6-pack.
So how can the rest of us sample our fair share of holiday beers without
ending up with a beer fridge full of stray bottles?
- Maximize your choices by getting to know the folks at your regular store.
Perhaps they'll set back a 6-pack of the latest seasonal for you, so you
don't have to worry about it selling out. Or you might be able to tell them
about beers they didn't realize they could stock. For instance, if the store
carries three or four brands from Anderson Valley (in California) ask if
Winter Solstice available.
- Now that they know you at the local store, suggest they sell singles. They
may already do that for particularly popular beers, but not have thought
about doing it for the holiday offerings.
- Set up a beer-buying co-op. Get one or more friends to join your "holiday
6-pack club." Basically, they agree to buy a percentage of each 6-pack (or
case). You probably won't end up dividing all the beer evenly (the logistics
of creating a large co-op can be maddening, but in the end everybody is more
likely to end up with beers they want). Some members of your group may want
more BridgePort Ebenezer Ale, others more Great Divide Hibernation.
- Think ahead. Chances are you'll be going places in the next few months
where it will be appropriate to take beer, be it an office party or a family
gathering. You'll be considered special if you show up with a mixed 6-pack of
holiday beers. But they don't have to be only holiday beers. Some breweries
put together samplers that include both holiday beers and year-round
products. You might want to try Old Fezziwig from Sam Adams and not know what
to do with the other beers in the sample pack -- take them to a party. Same
with the Michelob Specialty Sampler Collection -- it contains two beers
(Michelob Maerzen and Michelob Seasonal All-Malt) that are only available in
the sampler. You might want to see what they taste like but know you'd never
drink the Honey Lager. Trust us, the Honey Lager will be well received at
almost any party.
Excuse us now. We just heard that Sierra Nevada Celebration has arrived at
our local store. That's one 6-pack we won't be dividing up ...
More on a 'Yard of ale'
Reader Fred Schneider offers us a little more insight on the origins of "yard
of ale" that we discussed last week:
"I have a set of stagecoach glasses for the passengers. They have an oval
bottom and a slim neck. The neck goes in a holder, which keeps them from
rolling or falling over. These were filled with brandy.
"The driver got a yard of beer and the passengers got a few ounces of
Brewed by Oasis Brewery in Colorado
Michael Jackson's tasting notes:
ESB is a British term, a brand-name registered by Fuller's brewery, a mile
from my home in London. Fuller's ESB is a beautifully balanced beer. So is
Oasis, but much bigger and more assertive: earthy, leafy, garden-mint hop
aroma; big malt background; slightly chewy, then grain, then salty. Becoming
leafy. Long, lingering hoppy dryness. To be followed by Rocky Mountain
RED BRICK ALE
Brewed by Atlanta Brewing Co. in Georgia
Roger Protz writes:
A red-brown beer with a heavy barey-white head. It has a tempting rich aroma
of chocolate and cocoa backed by floral hops. Hops come bursting through on
the tongue but they are balanced by dark malts that add an almost astringent
note. The finish is dominated by roasty malt, chocolate, hedgerow fruits and
bitter hops. It may be inspired by English mild, but has far greater hop
character. Great companion for pizza.