Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

December 17, 2010

Beer Diary:

Bitter Christmas

Nothing makes the silly season more tolerable like big Midwest craft beers.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
Fucking Christmas.

I’m so sick of this shit. We’ve built an entire culture around this concept of “the holidays,” wherein countless movies, books, stories, cartoons, and a whole host of other effluvia have convinced us through sheer repetition that this time of the year is somehow some kind of joyous affair best spent with people you normally have trouble holding yourself back from throttling—or at least administering multiple charlie horses to. To me, the sole redeeming value of Christmas is that it takes place in the dead of winter, when there’s at least a chance of some nasty weather to occur to allow you a plausible excuse for avoiding having to spend time with a bunch of people who you have absolutely nothing in common with other than the fact that one of their parents lived in the same house as one of your parents for a measly few years. Normally this time of year I feverishly hope for five feet of snow to fall on the 23rd so I can tell Ma and her weirdo relatives that I’m stuck in the basement, gosh dang it, so I guess I’ll have stay down here by myself, brew some beer, and watch some nice Christmas porn.

Then again, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic.

Maybe it’s not like that at your house. Maybe you actually like the people who fell out of the same family tree of wombs as you. Maybe your holidays are just like some malty sweet postcard or Hallmark Hall Of Fame TV movie starring the ugly talentless chick from Beverly Hills 90210 and the guy who played Albert on Little House On The Prairie. Well, I am so fucking happy for you. My holidays involve being forced to drive four hours to spend time with a bunch of people I barely know and don’t even like, endure excruciatingly uninformed arguments about politics, play otherwise fun board games if anyone bothered to look up one goddman rule, all the while Junior and cousin Bertha physically fight over the last dish of chocolate pudding.

Maybe your holidays are just like some malty sweet postcard. Well, I am so fucking happy for you.
But I’ve found a solution to this torture—and it is nothing less than torture, my friends—in the event that Mother Nature doesn’t come through with that pre-Christmas death blizzard. And that solution, of course, is beer.

Yes, all you need is an iPod, a good, long book, and enough beery goodness to dull the mind from the living Hieronymus Bosch painting unfolding around you. Just plug the music into your head, crack the book to chapter 32, and get pleasantly, mildly drunk in the corner as if you actually were alone in the comfort of your own basement.

Normally I don’t advocate getting drunk for drunk’s sake, but think of the children … screaming for the sheer delight of hearing themselves scream, pouring “juice” (high fructose corn syrup, water, and food coloring) on your lap while you’re trying to watch a nice holiday movie, and bawling like goddamn babies when Billy Bob Thornton gets shot in the back at the end of Bad Santa. We won’t even get into the part about the kids’ mom ragging at you right in the middle of the movie in full-on Muppet voice, “Did that man just say ‘Santa fucking someone in the ass’?”

But there’s nothing more depressing—or toilet troubling—than numbing your face on shitty beer, cheap liquor, or rancid grape juice. It’s gotta be good beer—nay, great beer—stuff that you can savor along with your book and your death metal (or black metal, if you’re into that kind of thing). But you can’t just grab the first thing you see in your beer fridge before heading over the hills, through the woods, and to grandmother’s house you go. Your car will probably be crammed full of fruitcakes and bribes to keep your relatives from strangling you in your sleep—also known at this time of year as “presents.” That means you’ve got a finite amount of space, so every drop of beer has to pack a punch both in terms of flavor and alcohol. Below are just a few suggestions.

Devil Dancer
Founders Brewing Co., 13.0 percent ABV
This unholy onslaught of malt and hops will definitely lay you down for a long winter’s nap.

Night Tripper
New Holland Brewing Co., 10.8 percent ABV
Dark, heavy, and roasty. Maybe it’s named after Santa Claus. Make like the Night Tripper and ride alone this Christmas.

Expedition Stout
Bell’s Brewery, Inc., 10.5 percent ABV
Nasty big, soul-drowningling dark, and punishingly good. This one’s heavy enough to stand up to motherfucking fruitcake.

Surly Brewing Co., 10.3 percent ABV
Concrete coffin heavy, but treacherously drinkable. Nothing can induce blessed darkness like Darkness.

Scotty Karate Scotch Ale
Dark Horse Brewing Co., 9.75 percent ABV
Might be the meatiest Scotch ale in the Midwest. And that big ass ABV will provide a nice kick to the head.

Capital Brewery, 9.8 percent ABV
Capital creates this brew by amping up a version of their Autumnal Fire through freeze distilling. If there is a more perfect winter brew I don’t want to know about it.

Ard Ri
Upland Brewing Company, 9.25 percent ABV
This beer is, surprisingly, super sweet, just like grandma. And, also like grandma, if you underestimate it, it’ll drop you like false teeth into denture soak.

Blackout Stout
Great Lakes Brewing Co., 9.0 percent ABV
More chocolate than gashing, this a great brew to sip on while hiding from the outlaws … er, in-laws. But big enough that a mere four-pack will knock you out like the beer’s namesake.

Hopefully these brews will help to allay your holiday bitterness. But even if you’re not as much of a paranoid asshole as I am, the aforementioned beers—as well as a whole host of Midwest brews—make great Christmas dinner digestifs. Either way, stay safe and stay sane this holiday season. Wassail!

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...