Most people I know love the winter Holiday season: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc. So why try spreading Holiday cheer with beer?
What could be better than a series of holidays that have great meaning, great food and gifts???
It is only natural to want to give gifts and think of others as the year comes to an end. And if you are like me, you want to give the gift of craft beer. But the reality is not everyone likes craft beer (or at least they don’t know it yet!).
As a fellow enthusiast, I think it is great to bring craft beer to Holiday parties as a way to celebrate but I caution you to tread lightly. It is just as easy to scare someone away from craft as it is to entice them into wanting more.
To help, I have come up with some guidelines to ensure you add to the Holiday cheer with your Holiday beer.
You will want to give some thought to who will be at the party. Do they drink beer? Have they tried craft beer? Take a few minutes and think about what styles of beer will be the most successful with your family and friends. You may love triple IPAs and smoked jalapeno porters but they are probably not the best option. That doesn’t mean you have to stick to a boring beer; just be aware and consider their taste not yours.
If they are accustomed to drinking bourbon or whiskey then you might do well to bring a barrel aged stout. If they typically enjoy a light domestic beer then consider a blonde or cream ale. If you have some wine lovers in the group then maybe search for a fruited beer or a slightly sour beer.
The point is that you probably shouldn’t bring something crazy. Avoid the jalapeno, super hoppy and brett beers.
Variety and Quantity
Consider how many different beers you want to bring. Bring just one type and you run the risk of it being a flop. Bring too many options and you may intimidate those that are new to craft beer. Try to find out how many people will be at the party so you can plan accordingly but I seem to think that three different beers is ideal.
For quantity, you want to bring enough so everyone can try some but not so much that your aunt starts questioning your life decisions. So restrain yourself from bringing too much beer. Yes – there is such a thing as too much. You don’t want to be that family member that shows up to his grandma’s house with enough beer for a frat party. Not do you want to be the “craft beer snob” that only brings enough for yourself.
While I encourage enjoying a good craft beer; I highly discourage over indulging.
Mode of Transportation
As the options for beer have increased, so have the options on how to transport the delicious brew.
This is probably what your guests would expect. The classic brown beer bottle is recognizable from across the room. Just make sure you bring a few bottle openers and keep them handy. Don’t expect the host of the party to supply the bottle opener. There is nothing worse than not being able to share a beer because you can’t open in it.
Cans are still relatively new to craft beer but they are changing how craft beer is distributed. While there are still a lot of breweries that bottle; most new breweries are canning. Cans are great; they are the easiest to transport because of their light weight. In addition, you don’t need a bottle opener. Just grab and go!
Growlers, Howlers and Crowlers
These are all vessels used to take draft beer to go. Growlers (64oz) and howlers (32oz) are typically made of glass (think large beer bottles). They are refillable and keep beer fresh for a few days. A crowler (32oz) is a like a huge beer can. The can is filled and sealed on site; this requires a special system so very few locations offer this at this time. They can keep beer fresh for months but there is no way to close it once opened.
I love growlers/howlers and think they are the best way to bring beer to someone’s house and here’s why:
– Many have never had beer from a growler.
– 64oz of beer means you have enough to share
– More will try it because it’s already opened and ready to go
– It doesn’t keep long so you will want to encourage everyone to try some
– It promotes buying local craft beer – no one is buying growlers of Budweiser
– You can leave the growler behind and encourage them to use it in the future
Staying on Theme
Ok, so it’s the Holidays – are you required to bring a Holiday beer?
No, you are not required but I think one of the beers you bring should be seasonal. It’s fun and festive and is designed to match the feelings and food of the Holidays.
Seasonal beers highlight the uniqueness of craft beer. People love the changing of seasonal beers and it can help newcomers enjoy the hobby.
Some seasonal beers are only available at the brewery while others can be found at local bottle shops, liquor stores and specialty grocery stores. So do some research to find out where you can pick up a local, seasonal beer.
Wrapping It Up
So what should you bring? Here is a quick checklist to make your pre-party shopping easy.
Bring 3 different styles/types of beer – quantity will vary depending on the size of the crowd
- 6 pack(s) of a local, easy drinking, year round craft beer
- Pale ale, blonde ale, cream ale, golden ale
- Growler of a seasonal craft beer
- Winter warmer or Christmas ale
- Growler of an approachable but unique craft beer
- Maybe a porter or stout
Extras: Bottle Openers – if you bring bottled beer
And remember share your craft beer with a generous, giving and joyous spirit – be the Santa of craft beer!
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