This year, my wonderful wife gave the Christmas gift that literally kept giving.
Harken back to your childhood days. It’s quite possible that you had an Advent calendar. You might have received a small toy in each window, or, if your parents were cool, you received a piece of delicious chocolate for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas day. Each new day was met with great anticipation, guessing which tiny Christmas-themed shape of chocolate would be ravenously enjoyed. These were simpler times.
While I certainly would never begrudge any of my contemporaries continuing to participate in the Advent calendar tradition (chocolate remains delicious at any age), I can’t say I’m aware of anyone that does. My wife reinvigorated the idea this year by presenting me, on December 1st, with a beer Advent calendar. 23 bottles, hand-numbered and wrapped, sat upon our kitchen counter. Bottle number one was patiently waiting in the refrigerator, because my wife is smart.
The 24 day extravaganza began, appropriately, with St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Although noted on the label that it can age for up to 15 years, I was more than happy to enjoy it quite immediately. The dark quad was smooth and substantial, like a delightfully boozy Christmas fruit cake. Do yourself a favor and check out haji20’s more in-depth review. Other highlights included Day 3, Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale, Day 7, 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry (which was one of the best beers I’ve had all year), Day 18, Blue Mountain Blitzen, and Day 21, Southern Tier 2XMAS.
The process actually ended up a little more challenging than I thought it would be. I fell behind by one or two days several times, and used friends’ visits as a Christmas Spirit opportunity to share some of my bounty. This was never more appropriate than sharing Crazy Brewski, a 15% ABV Lithuanian imperial pilsner. If I was going to get punched in the throat by what was truly a Crazy Brewski, others were going down with me.
Rather than delay the inevitable, I’ll muse on last year’s badge.
Untappd badge: Merry Brew-mas (2014)
Badge criteria: Check in a beer on 12/25/14
Beer that unlocked the badge: Mad Elf – Troegs Brewing
Sometimes I’ll check in a beer that earns a badge on a technicality, but the spirit of the badge just isn’t there. For example, I recently found a dusty Yuengling in the back of the fridge, and happened to earn their Yuengling-specific “#LagerLove” badge. I did not love my old Yuengling.
However, this was certainly not one of those occasions. What better beer to enjoy on Christmas than Mad Elf? The beer itself is a spiced dark Belgian ale, that weighs in at 11% ABV, and tastes every bit of it. The body is hefty, with cherry and honey shining through. Mad Elf is one of the quintessential examples of a slow sipper. Take your time, enjoy the family and friends, and work your way through a snifter.