Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Beer

Advent calendars were an infrequent occurrence in my house growing up, so while I am familiar with the custom and delighted with the idea of opening a tiny perforated window to discover chocolate or another prize inside, it was by no means something anticipated. The first time we tried it with the girls, they turned up their noses at the waxy sub-dollar store Easter bunny grade of chocolate, so we have resorted to a magnetic nativity version instead that they still really enjoy. There is certainly no shortage of chocolate around the house this time of year.

This year, however, I am pretty excited, because Audrey gave me the green light to purchase a craft beer Advent calendar from Sherbrooke Liquor. They ordered in 400 of them and sold out within the first few weeks of release, prompting frenzied searches on Kijiji and other places.

The premise is that each morning in December, you open the appropriately numbered door and remove the hoppy treasure within, check it out, and then place it in the refrigerator so it will be chilled in time for the evening's consumption, as well as to heighten anticipation. The full directions from the box are both more detailed and vastly more entertaining.

My first advent beer was a kellerbier from Ayinger in Germany (all the beers are imports, and some of them have never been imported to Canada before). This is a type of unfiltered lager that pours very cloudy as a result, and according to Wikipedia, contains more vitamins as well. Traditionally it is served either direct from the barrel or in bottles, and is often crafted in cellars, hence the name. I lack both the palate and taster's vocabulary to be a decent beer critic, but from a layman's point of view, the kellerbier is a very tasty brew indeed. There is a yeasty, malty taste that regular lagers lack, and which give the beer a sharp, almost apple-like aftertaste, without being overly sweet or bitter. I enjoyed it with a turkey and Brie open-faced sandwich for supper, and by luck they seemed to suit each other pretty well, the crispness of the beer serving as a nice counterpoint to the melted Brie. I could also see it being a lovely accompaniment to a warm pretzel, but I'm unsure if this is because of the innate breadiness of the beer or just my playing to the Deutsche type, eh?

I am already looking forward to tomorrow morning's surprise, and hope to post a short blurb about each beer I try. Best of all, though, the calendar has inspired a copycat: our friend Shari, excited by the prospect and disappointed to discover that all the real ones had sold out, asked for my assistance in putting together something similar for her husband Dave. What a privilege! We hit the cooler at Sherbrooke, found 24 beers of varying types and origins, including a few larger bottles for the evenings when Shari isn't travelling and can share in the experience, and wrapped them in white paper.

I used a sheet of address labels and a cheesy Xmas Light font to number them, and then randomly distributed them between the two boxes so Dave can 'enjoy' hunting for the next number in sequence. There are some really nice beers in there, and I am looking forward to hearing how he enjoys the one-third or so I have actually tried. I took pictures of the assortment and will post them as they pass their respective reveal dates. So far the most common comment I have heard from people who I talk to about the two calendars is how awesome our wives are, which is obviously and without question, absolutely correct!

Speaking of trying new beers, a couple of weeks back Pete brought a new beer to gaming strictly due to the name: The Rev. James. He was tickled by the idea of our very own minister having a namesake beer, and asked if we could serve one to James if an opportunity presented itself. I wasted very little time in orchestrating such a circumstance, and had himself and his husband Glen over to sample it after seeing Skyfall last Saturday.

Not without some trepidation after being handed his glass, James asked, "So, what sort of beer am I, anyways?"

"It's brewed in Cardiff, so Welsh, I guess," said Glen, reading off the can. "You are apparently rich in palate, spicy and aromatic, with a satisfying finish..."

"Never mind all that," interrupted James, having managed a sip in the interim, "I'm delicious!"

And it's true; this is a very good drink for those who enjoy British-style beers. Best of all, at $5.99 for 4 x 440 mL cans, it is very encouraging that The Rev. James is not only good, but also cheap. ; )


  1. Dave just poured his advent beer #3: The Rev. James. He agrees... delicious!

  2. The Rev. James is delicious. Maybe the best value in imported UK beer. Looking forward to comparing your opinions of the various beers in the calendar with my own.