The calendar continues to roar towards 2009 and we are smack dab in the thick of the holiday rush. I know it’s sad, but some of us haven’t even begun, let alone finished, our holiday shopping mere days before the big event. At the time I write this, I myself have only finished about 45% of my total Christmas shopping. I can only hope that I’ll be done by the time this article appears online. But, since I tend to fall under a lot of male clichés, I will most likely have one or two more items to buy on Christmas Eve. Let’s just hope the lines aren’t as long as they were last year.
Another common and equally cliché past time that is on the horizon for many of us is that of the infamous “new year’s resolution.” I originally hadn’t planned to do one for this column, but I figured that it could be interesting to try to think of one (or more) that was not only important to me and my life, but also beer related. I’ll give it a whirl, here goes:
My new year’s resolution is actually going to be two resolutions. I decided to buck tradition and choose two instead of the usual one because one resolution just wasn’t enough for me. I guess if one is good, then two are even better. Plus, like the doublemint twins, everything goes better in pairs. Everyone knows that.
Firstly, I resolve to try more new brews in 2009. I find that when perusing the beer cooler at my local supermarket, more often than not, I tend to stick to beer that I am familiar with and have enjoyed in the past. I will glance over a brand name or style that is foreign to me, but usually end up picking an old reliable. I want to branch out and try as many new beers as I can. Plus, I don’t want to grow tired of some of my favorites. So, in 2009 I will strive to imbibe many more new and different brews than I did in 2008. I owe this much to you, the readers. As always, if anyone enjoys a less common beer that they want me to try, I’d be happy to give it a try and even mention it an upcoming column.
I also resolve to try more home-brewing in 2009. I’ve only brewed my own beer once in the past and it didn’t work out nearly as well as I had hoped. A year or so ago, my brother Matt and I attempted to make a batch of Brown Ale. We had a whole kit and paid close attention to the detailed instructions, but it still didn’t end up as we expected. Just like in any new endeavor, trial and error is an important part of home-brewing and is expected. But, this mistake was a doozy. Whatever we did wrong not only made the brew pitch-black in color, but also caused instant vertigo to anyone who attempted to drink it.
It’s definitely time to get back in the proverbial saddle and try again. Maybe this time it will actual be bearable. As for the terrible concoction that we made, we still have some left if anyone wants any. I wouldn’t recommend it though. We should have called it “Coal Brew”. If I found a bottle of it in my stocking on Christmas morning, I would assume I had been a naughty boy that year.
Speaking of naughty children, Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York has come out with a special winter brew called Krampus Imperial Helles Lager. This devilishly strong (9.0% ABV), Munich style helles Lager is named after a colorfully frightening character that few would ever like to meet. According to the Southern Tier website, European folklore says that Krampus is a”fanged, goat-horned bully” who issues punishments-instead of presents-to naughty boys and girls at Christmas time on behalf of Santa Claus. Check out the back of the bottle for a much more humorous detailed story of this very unfriendly holiday character.
Lucky for us in the U.S., if you were naughty, you only get a bit of coal in your stocking or a couple pairs of socks. If you managed to be good this year though, why not treat yourself to a Krampus. This honey and amber hued, malty brew is perfect for a holiday celebration or just for slow sipping in a big easy chair in front of the fire. Krampus has a crisp, hoppy and floral flavor with spicy hints of pine throughout. The alcohol content, although high, is not very noticeable.
I know Christmas isn’t the only holiday taking places during this time of year and I want to give the other holidays their fair shake as well. From Hannakuh, to Kwanzaa, to Frank Costanza’s infamous Festivus, to New Years Eve, everyone seems to have a reason to celebrate. So, instead of shelling out big bank to purchase that big bottle of fancy French Champagne this year, why not buy a larger bottle of higher end beer instead? Give Southern Tier’s Krampus a try. You probably should, you don’t want to get on the real Krampus’ bad side this year anyway.
*In an effort to get a little more feedback on my column and let you have a little more say as to what I write about, I decided to start a new email account. firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to let me know if you have any thoughts, ideas, or angry rants for and about my monthly column. Also, I am going to start a question of the month that will be answered in the following column if I get enough response.
This month, I’d like you to tell me what your “new beers resolutions” are. Hey, if you think up a good one, I just might quote you in an upcoming article!
Article image by: Steve Woods, SXC