The final beer for Christmas Eve is a Black India Pale Ale from Dunham, Quebec, and appropriately enough, it is both a treat and a surprise.
Highly hopped like an IPA but featuring darkly roasted malts like a Stout, the black IPA must balance these distinctive elements; truly a beer of two solitudes.
It took almost ten minutes to pour this beer; the foam is energetic and persistent, and there is still a finger left as I near the bottom third of the glass. Not a lot of nose, which is surprising given the amount of hopping, but there is as much nut as citrus or pine in the aroma.
The first taste overwhelmed me with hops, but subsequent sips make a nutty sweetness discernible, and bready tones from the malts become apparent. Make no mistake, this is still a hoppy number, to which the bittersweet finish will attest, but extraordinarily well balanced. A great finish to a great calendar,and I Am counting down the days til the next one!
Baby Jesus, the reason for the season (to hear some tell it) has arrived and is resting in his manger. For years, I thought the manger was a other word for stable or the building he was in, not a feed trough. I don't think I clued in until I realized it comes from the French word to eat.
A lot of what we associate with Christmas bears a surprising resemblance to Saturnalia, a mid-winter Roman festival that featured celebrations honouring the return of longer days after the solstice, gift giving and masters serving their slaves. Sometime after Constantine converted to Christianity, the festival became a celebration of the birth of Christ, and that was that. This is part of the reason that when my Ismaili co-worker talks about taking her kids to see Santa Claus, I say,"That's the spirit!" A good chunk of the holiday was stolen anyways, so take the elements you like, and let's use it as common ground to share some joy at a bleak time of year.
In the end, whether Christmas matters to you because of the arrival of Jesus and a new way of looking at the world, or simply a time to get together with friends and family, or even just a day off of work and a change of routine, or even if it doesn't matter to you at all, I hope you have a merry one.