Like Santa closing out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, we are here to usher in the most wonderful time of the year with cheer and beer. The festive season is on, and this month revolves around gathering and raising a glass together. It’s a time of packed social calendars as you catch up with friends and family, each event calling for a drink special enough for the occasion. It’s also a time of fun, special, seasonal flavors that really mark the calendar with a treat-yourself vibe. Basically, there’s no other time of year that revolves so much around “cheers!”-ing and enjoying our favorite, most celebratory things. Of course, we’d by lying if we said December was totally stress-free, but don’t worry, any good comprehensive list of holiday season activities and what to drink with them includes how to unwind and reward yourself after battling mall crowds, arguing over the holiday dinner menu with your mom, or trying to get both your dog and your baby niece to sit still at the same time for a Christmas card. So, let’s get to the good stuff, with a list of the activities and occasions that make this season what it is--from merry and bright to aaarghhh and everything in between--and what drinks will make it all extra cheery and memorable.
Gift Shopping IRL: Dr Hops Kombucha Rosé
Holiday gift-shopping in the real world should be an Olympic sport. You’ve got to prep, make your lists, create your gameplan by circling target zones on a layout of the mall. You’ve got to head into battle just to find a parking space, which will require laser focus and nerves of steel. You’ve got to deftly dodge crowds, use your speed to score the last remaining items on racks, and scale tall shelves with agility. The checkout lines will prove an unimaginable test of your patience. When you return home, exhausted through to your very bones, you need--and deserve--a drink that helps you kick back, that introduces a well-earned evening of relaxation, and that actually feels rejuvenating.
Dr Hops Kombucha Rosé is just what, well, the Dr Hops ordered. You get that crisp, refreshing rosé with a tart twist of kombucha. Hand-crafted, vegan, organic, and gluten-free, this hard kombucha feels good down to its core, and yet at 11%, it’s also completely up to either the relaxation task or the get-the-party-started task.
Untangling the Christmas Lights: Sail Away The Original
When all the decorating is done, your home looks so magical that it’s worth all that work. You get to live in a winter wonderland for weeks! It’s enough to make the most everyday beers a special occasion when you can crack them open surrounded by twinkle, sparkle, and shimmer. But boy oh boy is it indeed work to make happen sometimes. You know what we mean--you spend two hours calling upon every last shred of patience to untangle that string of lights, only to find one bulb is out, and then find the spares, and then wrap and drape it perfectly.
For this task, you want something that celebrates the magic but also provides a little boost for the fortitude light-hanging requires. Sail Away has just the thing with its Original. A “new kind of buzz,” this genius drink is a fusion of hard seltzer and cold brew. Sweet and roasty coffee, zingy effervescence, refreshing lightness? This 5% banger is a holiday prep must.
Posing for Card Photos: Mayflower Porter
Posing for holiday card photos tends to fall in the middle of our “stressful to joyful” scale. It depends on how many people--and animals--you’re aiming to squeeze into the frame, but this tradition can be trying on the ol’ nerves, from it taking 374 attempts to get one shot where no one’s blinking to being forced into matching sweaters, but also guarantees a great time as you gather with family and snuggle doggos and cats and generally get into the mood of merriment.
This is a classic tradition, that leads to yet another classic tradition, which is sending and receiving cards, so choose a drink that’s been a favorite tradition for actual centuries. A porter is a treat for your troubles but easy-drinking enough to let you focus on the photo shoot, and its roasty, chocolatey goodness will warm you right up. The quintessential porter, by the way, is this one from Mayflower Brewing Company.
Baking Cookies…for Everyone You Know: Deep Fried Beers Built Different DIPA
Like posing for photos, holiday baking can go either way and usually both at the same time. When you’re trying to churn out enough batches for you, your family, your roommate’s family, your dog-walker, your hair stylist, your kid’s teacher…the joy of baking can become a little taxing. Hang on, did you actually put in the butter? Why did that batch just burn when you put it in for the same time as every other batch?? Crap, you’re out of chocolate chips.
However, the end result promises to be delicious--how can you really go all that wrong with cookies, right? Plus, you get to snack as you go. And, there’s one way to make the entire evening one big treat: with an excellent beer that’s even tastier than the cookies, one that helps you kick back and enjoy the baking ride, whether your end results are worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake or not. That beer: Deep Fried Beers’s Built Different, a hazy double IPA packed with 10 pounds per barrel of Citra, Citra Spectrum, Strata, Simcoe, and Galaxy (now that’s a stuffed stocking!).
Holiday Parties with Co-Workers: DITTO Piquette Spritz
It’s not that your co-workers can’t be your buds, too, but there’s just something a little different to the dynamic…you’re probably a little less likely to cut all the way loose, and even when celebrating all the holiday joy, you’re aiming to put your most sophisticated foot forward. In addition to wanting to balance fun with a little professionalism, you’re also conscious of the fact that while you want to kick back a bit and feel jolly, you also want to be able to, ya know, walk in on Monday morning without a pang of, “Oh no, I said what to who?!” What kind of drink is delicious, delightful, conversation-starting (key when having to navigate some more awkward office hangs), adds to the festivity, but isn’t too heavy or too much?
DITTO’s piquette spritz, made from upcycled grape musts from wineries, packs all the elegance of wine into a handy can with a refreshing twist of sparkle. It’s accessible yet chic, complex yet thirst-quenching, and special yet easy-drinking.
Holiday Parties with Friends: Protector Brewery SD Lite Lager
On the other hand, then you have your friend holiday hangs. At these gatherings, you can really let your guard down and deck the halls. You’ll be enjoying each other’s company, giving each other gifts, toasting your friendships, making memories--you know, magical holiday-type stuff. You can fully be yourself and get into the spirit. That might include eggnog, special cocktails, and a whole smorgasbord of treats and tipples, but one thing is an absolute must: a good, sessionable lager. You want something light, delicious, and easy-drinking so that the party never has to end.
Protector Brewery’s SD Lite Lager takes a craft, quality approach to the sessionable light lager so you can have something tasty--and organic!--to sip on leisurely as your holiday parties enter the wee hours.
Binging Holiday Movies and Eating Most of Those Aforementioned Cookies: AMASS Faerie Fizz
While much more low-key--pajamas are very likely involved--a good holiday movie binge is another location that calls for a drink you love and look forward to, worthy of the occasion, that’s still nice and light for long, leisurely enjoyment. You want a drink that captures the vibe of a quiet night in the midst of packed-social-calendar, gift-shopping-and-wrapping mayhem. And, you also want something nice and crisp to temper the sweetness and richness of all the cookies that somehow made their way to the coffee table.
AMASS’s Faerie Fizz is the dreamiest botanical and bubbly drink to provide all that balance. It’s just 5%, and made with this gorgeous bouquet of flavors and aromas: jasmine, cardamom, and raspberry.
Wrapping Gifts: Pohjala Brewing Company Valk Gose
There are those of us who really vibe out on wrapping, getting into that zen space of a quiet, methodical, repetitive task. Bless those people. For the rest of us, wrapping gifts can get tedious fast, and maybe even borderline irritating if it’s not your jam and/or you’ve never been able to make those sleek corners and even lines happen. But, it’s gotta be done, as your brother reminds you every year when you try to rebrand dumping all your family’s gifts out of a garbage bag as an exciting game show-like reveal. So, soften the blow by accompanying the chore with an absolutely delicious beverage you know you’ll love. Ta-da: now gift-wrapping is actually kind of something to look forward to?
Pohjala Brewing Company’s Valk is an imperial gose made with bilberry and sage. Bilberries are similar to blueberries, so this beer promises to deliver tartness, sweetness, and a lovely botanical character. It’s a pleasant and presumably well-needed step away from all the heavier chocolatey, pepperminty, dark dried fruity flavor profiles this time of year, but still feels totally warming and comforting.
Picking Relatives Up from the Airport: Athletic Brewing Company All Out Extra Dark
Ah, family. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. Those days before the holidays when you’ve been recruited to shuttle back and forth between the airport collecting the odd grandparent, aunt, and/or uncle are a mix of excitement--yay, you can’t wait to see them!--and madness--why do they have 14 suitcases for three days?? What’s a drink that celebrates these joyful reunions, treats you to a well-deserved “aaahhhhh” after tracking down Grandma in the wrong terminal, and--oh, yeah--doesn’t have any booze so that you can indeed drive?
We’re so lucky to be alive in a time of Athletic Brewing Company making non-alcoholic beer something in the craft space, with different style options, genius brewing methods, and thoughtfully chosen ingredients. Alcohol-free beer has truly never tasted so good or been so refreshing. Stick with the holiday season spirit and indulge in their All Out Extra Dark, a stout style with coffee and chocolate notes.
Holiday Dinners with Loved Ones: Ross Brewing Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout
This is the crowning event of the season, what the holidays are all about. Whether it’s your parents and siblings and/or assorted relatives, your best friends, your roomates, your crew of pets--sitting down to feast, laugh, reminisce, and bond with loved ones is the magic of the holidays. It’s what makes all the more stressful stuff leading up to this point so totally worth it. Your favorite people, your favorite dishes and desserts, your favorite decorations shining on the tree--you always remember these special times. Wow, that’s a tall order for a drink, then, right? It also has to be favorite status, it has to feel as special as the occasion, it has to delight everyone around the table…it certainly wouldn’t hurt if it garnered a few “ooohs” and “aaahs” when you broke it out after dinner.Ross Brewing Company’s Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout fits the bill in every sense, from its elegant bottle to its decadent and delicious taste. Made with real Belgian chocolate, molasses, cacao nibs, and vanilla, this stunner equally delights beer geeks and moms who think they don’t like beer. It’s guaranteed to bring everyone together and really make those cookies--however many are left--sing.