Man, I should have written this up back when my memories were only partially fuzzy; now it's a week and a half later, and those brain cells are completely dead. So this will be much lamer than it deserves. However, with a bit of downtime at work ("downtime" meaning I really ought to be doing something work-related right now, but fuck it) and, a Spaten Optimator in hand, I'd rather do this.
First off, an explanation of what it is: My buddy Bobnoxious, with whom I've been drinking beer since ... oh, around the time fermentation was discovered ... annually holds a Christmas-themed beer party. Which doesn't just mean the party is Christmas-themed, but the beer itself is. Any special-release beer that has Santa or elves or snow, etc. on the label that Bob can track down gets included. Bob – or the alter ego that he assumed this year, Scottish Jimmy (I still need that photo, Bob) – is always a magnificent party host, and he treats his guests well. We each got tiny samples of every beer – which, cumulatively and accounting for the higher alcohol content that wintertime brews tend to have, causes you to get schnockered. Don't dare ask Bob for a bigger sample than what he pours – he knows what he's doing. Plus, if you do ask, he'll probably give it to you, and you'll regret it later.
Dangit, now I have to try to remember what all we drank, and I can't, except that they were all yummy things that go down to your belly and feel like a hot coal down there, warming you up and making you feel all fuzzy. Maybe the rest of you could tell me what your favorites were. But I'll try to remember mine: There were the usual suspects: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, St. Arnold Christmas Ale, Young's Winter Warmer, Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome. Plus two pretty good ones from the Samuel Adams holiday mix pack, Old Fezziwig and Holiday Porter (which Bob and I agreed was one of the better porters we've had).
Then Bob whipped out a magnum (or as he was calling it by that point, a "mangum") of the Anchor Christmas Ale, which is annually the only holiday brew that I just flat-out don't like, even though they claim to put out a different version every year. It's spicy. And not in a good way — like, a burning kind of spicy. But everyone else loves it, so clearly I'm an idiot, which I know they'll all be happy to tell me, just like when I said Guinness Stout is overrated.
I was most proud to have contributed to the stock this year: After returning from annual holiday visit to my Kansas City in-laws last year, I brought back a bottle of Boulevard Nut Cracker Ale. As I've raved about before, K.C.'s Boulevard is one of my very favorite breweries, and since they don't distribute to Texas, I and my across-the-street neighbor (who also has family in K.C.) are their two major Austin distributors, importing a good two to four cases annually. As with everything else they make, this is a mighty fine beer that held up just fine sitting in that bottle for a year. My mother-in-law has a case of Nut Cracker waiting for me when we head up later this month (and boy, doesn't that sentence just make its own joke?)
Let's see ... I also remember some Breckenridge somewhere in there, which was pretty good, plus an offering by Louisiana's Abita brewery, which everyone else thought tasted like ass but I thought was okay, so clearly I'm an idiot again.
And at one point Bob opened up some Belgian beers that had nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas, I think he just inserted them because he wanted some Belgian beer to really loosen people up (mission accomplished). I remember some Bernardus Abt. 12 and two different kinds of Chouffe, which Bob said he liked "Just because it sounds like what you'll do if you drink too much of it." (And you really must listen to the "Chouffe Happy Song," which is exactly what the name implies.)
Then we killed off the last bottle of some kind of British superheavy ale that had been aging in Bob and Cristen's fridge ever since they got married 12 or so years ago. (It was supposed to age, kind of like Samuel Adams Triple Bock, but honestly, years didn't help the taste one bit.)
At at some point, I polished off a full glass of North by Northwest's holiday beer, which was probably a mistake, as I didn't realize it was a barleywine. Oof. So by this point I was pretty hammered (thanks to M'Lady for driving home) although not as much as Bob, who was sitting by his fireplace wobbling like a Weeble.
And to crown the evening, Bob's pal and Bubba Coltrane bandmate Ed whipped out some of his home brew, which we've enjoyed on many occasions. Ed's a talented guy — mighty fine stuff, although at this point I can't remember what styles he brought over.
So there it is — the full play-by-play, as best I can reconstruct it. Perhaps next year I should be a good blogger and use Bob's laptop to for live coverage.
"Buying Beer Online," Revised and Updated
5 hours ago