Session # 10 Christmas Beers
It’s Friday night. I’m sitting at the bar and there are patrons sampling beers including our two Christmas Beers- Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout and The Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi. Me, I’m having a huge glass of Gift of the Magi. Teri brought in some cheese for the tasting bar tonight so we’re having Humboldt Fog with Garlic Crisped Crackers. We’re also having some Brie with Roasted Onion and Black Pepper Crackers. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Stinky cheese Plates on Friday nights is awesome.
So, now that I have the beer and food pairings and my bonus points out of the way, I should probably dive into the topic at hand.
I grew up Catholic and Christmas means something to me. It means that I grew up celebrating Catholic Religious stuff- you know like Jesus, Reindeers, Wooden toys and stuff. Fast forward to today, and some of that luster is gone. I’m not sure which year it went away. But somewhere in my youth to adolescence movement it went by by. You know the part where we say Merry Christmas?
Personally, I hate this notion that we shouldn’t offend anyone and as such we should wish them “Happy Holidays.” Sorry, screw that. NOT Screw you, but Screw that! I like Christmas. So Merry Christmas to you and yours.
At Port Brewing, we make not one but two Christmas beers. I like Christmas that much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the waiting in line to buy presents part. I certainly loathe the what color sweater might I be getting this year type gifts. But mostly, I am not a fan of the “Unspirited Christmas.” You know, the Christmas where everyone is too busy to notice that at the end of the day we’re supposed to at the very least be Thankful? It’s too much Dickens and BAH Humbug for me.
However, as a brewer each year, I am presented with the fantastical opportunity to connect with celebrating beer enthusiasts each and every year who are truly in touch with the meaning of christmas. And for all you South Park fans out there, it’s not HAM!
I decided that this blog would be about our newest Christmas beer called Gift of the Magi. I could easily have written about the last 11 years worth of batches of Santa’s Little Helper (can we have a blog session someday about Simpson’s inspired beer names too)? But Santa’s Little Helper is old school like Burl Ives, Bing Crosby and the Little Drummer Boy.
So this evening, I thought I would share my thoughts on our new friends the Magi. When I set out to design a Christmas Beer for The Lost Abbey, I thought about the things that I truly enjoy each and every year in beers for the holiday season. For what it’s worth, I am not a huge Wassail fan and Munich Malt doesn’t come bearing plates of Fruit Cake around here too often. I like spiced beers but right now, nothing stands out in my mind as a spice that I would like to evoke. Besides, I appreciate Anchor’s Christmas beer and love that they keep the spicing a Fort Knox like secret.
So tell us about the Gift of the Magi you say. Initially, it was my plan to find a way to incorporate Gold, Frankincese and Myrh into the beer. I actually think it’s possible to do this but at the end of the day, it just seemed like to big of a gimmick for what I wanted to accomplish.
And you ask? What was it that I wanted to accomplish in designing and releasing another Christmas beer? First, I wanted something memorable. I’m not a fan of anything that doesn’t attempt to stand out. So, it had to have perspective. So we brewed a more contemplative Biere de Garde which we dry hopped and spiked with Brettanomyces at bottling. That ought to take care of the standing out like the kid picking his nose in the back row of the 5th Graders performance of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” each year.
But I also felt it needed to say “Merry Effin Christmas Jesus is the Reason for the season keep Christ in Christmas Away in a Manger, here’s your religion in a 750ml bottle (Thanks Jeff) don’t worry about not going to church this year. Hopefully, there’s enough panache in each bottle that God Fearing Heathens (our Sinners and Saints alike) will find their own personal savior each time the cork is popped.
The taste is something I think will resonate with our patrons. The beer pours with a muted and glowing orange opacity. You might even say it radiates the colors of a candle burning in a manger. The aromas are bold with notes of honey, candied fruits and herbal hops. The first sip presents faint sweetness and a long dry finish with noticeable hops. At this time, the Brettanomyces has yet to really assert itself.
It is my hope this Christmas Season that there will be an Epiphany of sorts after the first of the year when these friends of ours will arrive. And when they do, our Magi will come bearing gifts of Alcohol, Hops and Wild Yeast. That my friends will make me very Merry. Because as we know, Christmas is about giving more than receiving. Here’s to hoping that The Gift of the Magi continues to give to each and every beer drinker seeking the meaning of Christmas in a bottle.