Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: Day Ten

On the tenth day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Ten Holiday Beers...
Nine Small-Town Nimrods
Eight Songs I'm Loathing . . . or should be loathing, but I'm loath to say that I'm actually liking them instead of loathing them . . .  Seven Football Stories
Six Bits Worth Reviving
Five Awesome Gifts
Four Smokin' Rock Chicks
Three Blogging Concepts (Sports, Drinking, Elitism)
Two Footie Stories
And a Doofus on a Pony

This year's 12 days of Gheorghemas has shaped into something of a public service announcement for things to contemplate this holiday season. From live music to gift ideas to hot chicks to interest in the Footies (and we were so serious about this one we curiously devoted 1/6 of the 12 days to it); we've covered a lot. Who am I to buck this trend? I've always been somewhat of an enabler. So, I'd like to present something to help get those synapses firing - a catalyst in a cup (or glass if you have to be so fancy about it). And really, there's no better way to contemplate than while sipping something divinely delicious and laden with alcohol.

Some quick background qualifications first. I happen to live a short Par 5 away from one of the best local beer markets in the country (which frankly, deserves its own post for a number of reasons). Everything from obscure domestic microbrews to lavish imports, they have them all.

You'd think I'd be fatter than I am - weird. As such, I've devoted a significant part of my holiday spirit to tasting as many festive fermented creations as possible. The other parts have been devoted (unequally) to sports betting, my children, and saving TJ's liver (and not necessarily in that order). So, on this 10th Day of Gheorghemas, I'd like to share with you, dear readers, some pleasant avenues to numbing those Christmas blues.

Editorial note: because I don't really care for ranking something so subjective, there is no numbering or order here. Instead, I've suggested a musical pairing with each selection to match the vibe of the beer. No rating system, no stars, no thumbs. Just simply tossing them up in the air so they fall like snowflakes onto your mittens. Seriously, please catch them on the way down, they come in glass bottles and will shatter if they hit the floor....

Bell’s Christmas Ale:

Musical Pairing: Wilco, Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens

A perfectly balanced ale that subtly blends its malts and spices for a smooth finish. This ale seems to capture the essence of the holidays without trying too hard. Bell's has become one of my favorite breweries in the States - consistently pumping out quality stuff for all pallets.

Anchor Merry Christmas and Happy New Year:

Musical Pairing: The Velvet Underground, The Grateful Dead, Girls

The counter culture crew really knows their brew -and has for a long time. This spicy sweetness is no exception. The rich color and bold scent will have you melting by the fire even before the nectar hits your tongue.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale:

Musical Pairing: U2 (1980-1989), The Shins, Mumford and Sons

This one you can probably get on tap in your local pub. It's become a hop lovers mainstay on the Christmas circuit. A beer for the people - I've seen it in the most finicky beer snob's hipster iceboxes as well as buried in coolers at stuffy tasteless holiday parties your boss throws.

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve:

Musical Pairing: Old 97's, LCD Soundsystem, Rogue Wave

The Gheorghiest of all the selections - because it's not really a Christmas ale at all. Other than the Santa on the label and the red in the color, this red-hopped beauty is more like snowshoes on South Beach.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale:

Musical Pairing: The National, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver

Wow. Do whatever you can to get this one. A quintessential Belgium brew taken to another level here. Mind melting malts and a rich velvety taste. Looks like art in a glass when you pour it with the thick head and dark color. Comes in at 10% ABV, so you'll be on your way to deep thoughts with a couple of these.

New Belgium Snow Day:

Musical Pairing: Cults, Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers

A beer so approachable and unoffensive you wouldn't know you're drinking something of such high quality. Malty, but not too sweet with mild spices creating a playful quality. You'll wish you were snowbound with nothing but time.

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome:

Musical Pairing: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd

I'm a sucker for everything that comes out of Samuel Smith's, so this was gonna be on the list even if it is somewhat of a departure from the usual English pub style ales they produce. Just reaffirmed its placement on this list last night as a matter of fact.

Great Divide Hibernation:

Musical Pairing: Radiohead, TV on the Radio, James Blake

The perfect twist on an old-English style ale. Like Alfrerd Hitchcock said, "suspense lies in the moments leading up to the bomb exploding; not the explosion itself." The whole time you're waiting for that bitter attack, this beer keeps the acidity in the dark with a nice sugary coating. Caramel and roasted malts make this heavenly for an evening of staying in and pondering the merits of concert sing alongs.

Troeg’s Mad Elf:

Musical Pairing: The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Frank Zappa

This one requires some adventure. Not what you'd expect from a Pennsylvania beer company. But, conjure up visions of candy canes dancing in your head while drinking this one. Sweet fruity and candy flavors take the the malts to another level. While also winning the ABV award on this list by topping out at 11%, don't be fooled by the whimsical sweetness....that elf is truly angry (or crazy (or both)).

Salud y Feliz Navidad!


Igor said...

Whoa. This post is The Catcher in the Rye.

zman said...

Dennis comes up big on an annual basis. Speaking of big ... we're morphing into Gheorghe: The Breasts.

zman said...

This is the guy who hijacked my train. Keep the volume down at work.


T.J. said...

I really enjoy that picture.

zman said...

Oh word?


T.J. said...


Squeaky said...

Igor, came out even on Vegas. Thanks to Pai Gow Poker.

Was inline at the outlets to return some clothes. Lady snooping over my shoulder let out a gasp when the final image in the post became visible.

Danimal said...

should have said, "that's my sister wearing the gift i got her"

Danimal said...

the picture is pretty nice. if i have one complaint it's that her chest is a tad too big. yeah, i said it. it's too big.

T.J. said...

You shut your mouth.

Dave said...

why no face on that pic? makes me skeptical . . .

thanks for the beer advice-- i love troegs but i've never had the mad elf-- i will try it.

also, "pallets" are wood things that you stack cases of beer on and then lift with a fork-lift.

rob said...

most of you know that procrastination is my normal modus operandi. we've needed new tires on our minivan for some time now, but i ignored the problem. today, it almost became too big to solve, as i spent the last 5 hours hydroplaning all over western pennsylvania and maryland in a miserable rainstorm on the way home from xmas with my wife's family. i'll be getting new tires tomorrow, assuming my hands have unclenched by then.

zman said...

Have I ever discusse my hatred for tourists and how the roots thereof were planted in the burg?

rob said...

and excellent work, dennis. i confess that i find troeg's mad elf so bizarre as to be undrinkable.

zman said...

Tires are the things on you car that make contact with the road. Very important.

rob said...

should it be modus operandum?

Squeaky said...

Had the Mad Elf in Vegas at the Cosmopolitain Hotel bar. They were also selling PBR tallboys for $4 each with a free cozy.

Will have to try and pick up the selections i haven't tried.

zman said...

rob: yes.

Shlara said...

Dennis--I really like the beer & music pairings.

And I have one word for the Wizards after last nights game: REBOUNDING.

Blatche made me angry before the outrageous tweets...he's an idiot and should have been dumped/traded 4 years ago. Idiot.

Danimal said...

Mark....not sure what made me think of this but that bourbon milk punch drink is assembled in a shaker and then poured over crushed or shaved ice.....

T.J. said...

Giant-sized filler up...