Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Six Packs of Cheer – Hoppy Holidays to All!

December 24th, 2008 · 1 Comment

While I take call-in questions from readers, and locate my latkes recipe for you, I’m turning my blog over this morning to Dan Oliver, friend and fellow quaffer. He’s going to occasionally write for me about beer and brewing and all things hoppy. Dan’s the Beer Guy who does the very nice Watering Hole series of videos on The Palm Beach Post web site.

Twas the night before Christmas…And all through the house,

Not a beer stein was empty, and the Beer Guy was soused!

     We’ll see if my impromptu poem proves to be prophetic or not. But The Beer Guy has been telepathically receiving a group “S.O.S. message from you procrastinating holiday shoppers out there, and I’m here to plant an idea in that racked brain of yours. Put your hands to your temples and close your eyes (OK, well for a second…)

B E E R!

That’s right, beer! No, not just any beer, but good beer. Maybe even great beer.

Almost everybody loves beer and those who don’t should. And you’ll never see a more sincere smile on the face of a beer lover who has just received something he or she really wants, and could really use around Christmas time.

With that in mind, The Beer Guy has compiled a shopping list for your consideration of possible stocking stuffers for the foam fanatic in your life. This list can also double for something interesting to bring to any upcoming New Year’s celebrations.

  • Santa’s Private Reserve from Rogue Brewery should have sold out by now, but lucky for you it didn’t. It’s even on sale at Whole Foods in Wellington for $8.99 a six pack. The 22-oz. bottle is around five bucks. I found Santa’s Private Reserve to be an exceptionally tasty, smooth and balanced brew, not overpowering in any way. Now I know why Santa wanted to keep most of it for himself, Ho Ho Ho!


  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is a holiday classic, right up there with It’s a Wonderful Life and  A Christmas Story. It’s a wonderful beer, a keg of which we thoroughly enjoyed at the local beer club’s Christmas party. It’s full-bodied and aggressively hopped and always seems to make any anti-festive feelings just melt away sip by sip. It’s also on sale at Whole Foods for $8.99 a sixer. Go getcha some, I double-dog-dare you.


  • Saranac 12 Beers of Winter are a safe bet for a “beer liker” on your list. You can count on Saranac to produce solid brews which don’t try to push the envelope too far. This seasonal 12 pack includes two each of six different beers, Vanilla Stout, India Brown Ale, Bohemian Pilsener, Extra Special Bitter and Season’s Best. $15.99 to $17.99 and available at most discriminating beverage outlets, including Total Wine.


  • Never Summer Ale from Boulder Brewing is billed as a “big, bold winter seasonal”, but it’s not so big it should scare you. Notes of caramel come through in the flavor and the hops are subdued. It’s a good companion for some of those chilly nights to come. $7.99 to $8.99 per six.


  • Prelude Special Ale is Shipyard Brewery’s veteran winter seasonal. It’s made in the style of an English ale, “rich and nutty with an amber hue” says the tasting notes. This is one I didn’t get a chance to try yet, I haven’t tried it yet, but if you do, comment and let me know what you think. It’s 6.8 percent alcohol, so it’s a winter warmer to be sure. $7.99 to $8.99 per six pack.


  • For something new: Stone Brewing Co.’s beers have made their way here from Escandido, Calif., and South Florida beer nerds are excitedly welcoming them. The flagship brew is Arrogant Bastard Ale, an aggressive beer with a character matching it’s name. In fact, the brewers warn “you probably won’t like it”, questioning whether you have the “sophistication” to appreciate it. It’s incredibly popular and a good gift to give someone you want to send a not-so-subtle message to. 4.99-5.99 per 22 ounce bottle. There are many other Stone beers to choose from, including a Pale Ale and Smoked Porter, or the one I plan to open on Xmas eve, Ruination Imperial IPA (see above poem).

 And finally a couple of suggestions for some New Year’s grog:

  • At 20 percent alcohol, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA is stronger than champagne and much more interesting. Go easy though, a 12 ounce bottle contains 450 calories. As this is a seasonal beer, it may be in limited supply. Also from Dogfish, Midas Touch Golden Elixir is a combination of beer, wine and mead, created from beer goblets found in the tomb of King Midas. It’s a conversation starter for sure.


  • Also consider any good Belgian Ale for the holidays and December 31st. Chimay is always popular and comes in a corked bottle, but my favorite is La Chouffe’s Strong Golden Ale. No gnomes were harmed in the making of his brew, they claim There are layers of subtle flavor in this unique beer, including orange and coriander, and at 8 percent alcohol, it’s no fairy.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

 The Beer Guy

PS: Keep the cheer through next year — drink responsibly and designate a driver!

Tags: Sips: Drinkables

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 greg.koch // Dec 24, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for the mention of our Arrogant Bastard Ale. Please note that the pic is of OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale, which is quite different (and only available in 6pks, vs. the original Arrogant Bastard Ale which is only in 22oz bottles).

    Also, our ‘flagship’ beer is more likely Stone IPA (although we used to call Stone Pale Ale our flagship…so who the hell knows!).

    Enjoy the Stone Ruination IPA this eve! Merry Christmas!



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