Holiday time means parties, celebrations, dinners out or in with friends and family – all of which of course brings us to beer appreciation! Whether it’s giving a fine holiday craft beer as a gift, or serving it to friends with a meal, or taking a trip to a brewery of beer-bar during your time off, it’s Holiday Beer Appreciation time, indeed.
I started with a visit to the new Troegs brewery/tasting room extravaganza in Hershey in early December with a work friend eager to try out the new place. You simply have to experience it – a huge tasting room with miles of bar space, and plenty of familiar (Hop Back Amber), holiday (Mad Elf) and special tasting room only scratch brews (T2 and Cocoa Stout) ready for your pleasure.
Walk through the brewery with your Troegs beer in hand, and maybe you’ll learn something from the self guided tour. The place is in the heart of Hershey’s tourist zone – but be aware there’ s little in the way of food at the brewery, though there is root beer for the youth/non-drinking set.
As is my habit, I brewed up a special holiday home brew recipe for the holidays – (many of these are on the website in the “extreme home brew” section), to give away to friends and co-workers (not that they are always mutually exclusive) and to enjoy with holiday meals.
This year I went all in with a very rich chocolate stout with a half a pound of real Belgian chocolate and a half pound of pureed dried cherries added in the mix. Bottled on Thanksgiving day, it clocked in at about 9% ABV and at first it was so sweet it needed ice cream. By the end of December it had dried out nicely. The reviews were good as it moved quickly.
In the between Christmas and New Year’s week a couple of like beer-minded friends and I usually make a run down to Rehoboth Delaware to the “Dogfish Brewing and Eats” original brew pub, then wander over to the brewery in Milton to buy swag and marvel at the sheer size of the brewery. (Taking our time at the Pub, we are always too late for the tour, but we do need to pace ourselves at lunch, after all).
The Brewpub consistently offers something unusual and unheard of – from the fertile and somewhat twisted minds of the Dogfishers. No disappointment this time – as while stalwart crazy craft beers on tap Burton Baton and 120 IPA delighted, the consensus favorite was “Hell Hound” which turned out to be fine, rich double IPA with lemons added (the citrus was hard to detect, but the over all flavor was fabulous) 10% Abv and 60 IBU.
One last holiday beer tradition – making some slow cooked home made chili using the home brew chocolate stout (or Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout if I made something else that year). Using fresh “happy cow” organic meats from “Whole Paycheck”, along with savory spices like cinnamon, cumin, cocoa along with chipotle peppers makes a nice savory and mild but flavorful meal or six (and great freezer food that can be easily reheated for the NFL playoffs – watching other teams duke it out).
I’d love to hear about your Holiday Beer Traditions – drop me a note. Happy 2012!