Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Beer at Christmas

I love Christmas. Almost as much as I loved it as a kid. Though for different reasons. It's the season of excess. And nothing exceeds like excess. I never worry about cracking open a beer before 10 AM. But on Christmas day a Keith Floyd whisky breakfast comes guilt free.

I don't plan my Christmas drinking as much as stumble into it. Then stumble through it. And end in some type of unconsciousness. Beer and food pairing is paramount to my enjoyment of the day. St. Bernardus Abt with a Lagavullin leg-loosener matches any meal or munchie perfectly. And any mood or time of day.

Unfortunately, this year may be different. "Why don't you drink all those beers you have lying around before buying new ones?" Dolores is way too logical. But opposing her isn't a good idea. I still have the scars - both mental and physical - from the last time I tried. Looks like I'll be lapping up leeftovers.

There's a bottle of Hoppin Frog BORIS The Crusher that I picked up in New Jersey. At over 9% ABV, it should match present-opening well. As long as I wash it down with enough Islay. Anything to drown out the noise of the kids. Little bastards seem to think it's their bloody day. And its roasty Stoutiness should counterpoint the baconiness of my breakfast sandwich perfectly.

For that hour lull between the screaming and tearing of present-opening and the first round of dinner, I'll need something light. Something to suck on slowly while I indulge in a special seasonal treat - surfing the internet. What would be perfect: De Molen Rook en Vuur. I've still got a box of that. A touch of fire on the tongue will get me in arguing mood. Perfect for beer forum festive fun. And at only 9% ABV or so, it won't hit the brain cells too hard. A couple of shots of Lagavullin should put that right.

We usually have smoked salmon or some other such poshery as a starter. This would be the point where I'd switch to a nice dry sherry. But there's all that beer to drink up. Maybe the Goudenband that's been sat in the kitchen most of the year would be a good substitute. Or, even better idea, one of the ancient beers hidden under the stairs. They're all oxidised to hell. Just like sherry. Any one should do. Its stale, mustiness will lift the fishy freshness of the fish.

Dolores will insist I drink wine with the main course. But that doesn't mean I can't have a beer as well. And some Lagavullin to keep it company. We'll be eating goose, so I'll need something to cut through all the grease. Something zingy, spritzy and Stouty. De Molen Kopi Loewak Coffee Stout should do. Best drink it before the bottle explodes. Cat shit and goose - a marriage made in heaven.

I don't eat pudding. A liquid substitute seems only fair. Something rich and chocolatey. And Stouty. De Molen Mout & Mocca will do the trick. It comes in a convenient, one-person-sized 75cl bottle. With a side of whiskey, it should set me up for the afternoon. Perhaps I'll indulge in a nut or two. A hazelnut-chocolate juxtaposition could make my spirit soar.

This is when I need an eye-opener. Literally. A beer to sip in the odd snatched moment of conciousness. I think there's still a bottle of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. At just 9.6% ABV, it shouldn't be too soporific. That's the job of the Lagavullin. If there's any left.

By the time tea time rolls around, I should be in the mood. In the mood for food. And pairing. What goes best with fancy sandwiches? Difficult one, that. Some would recommend a light beer, like Pilsener. Others a proletarian Brown Ale. After all that Stout, a change of pace will be in order. I know. Porter would be perfect. A box of it still obstructs my bedroom . Two bottles of 1914 Porter for tea. With tea. . . . With tea.

Then it'll be time for another snooze. Dolores hates it when I keep nodding off. Best go for something that will keep me alert. Stone XIII. The brewery describes it like this: "Up front, the aroma is all piney, resinous and citrus hops." Sounds like a tongue-stripping horror. The annoyance of C hops should keep me from the land of Nod. If only because of the shouting and swearing. Shop-bought cheesy biscuits will help round the edges.

After that, my taste buds will be shot. Only one solution: finish the day by finishing the Lagavullin.

That's my plan. Should be a radical day, dude. I would ask what you'll be drinking for Christmas. But reading someone else's drinks menu is, well, effing boring.


Unknown said...

I haven't chosen my beers yet, but I suspect Caol Ila 28 years cask strength might be the malt of choice for me.

Ed said...

I haven't had a goudenband in ages, I must see if I can track some down in time...

Alan said...

One of your best bits of writing, Ron.

Matt said...

Couple of bottles of Fullers 1845 then the Belgians: Rochefort, St Bernardus and Westmalle (and anything else Santa brings).

Andrew Elliott said...

Damn... I'm hungry... and thirsty... you have me looking forward to Christmas too! Think I'll be sipping the 1914 Whitbread SSS that I brewed up (thanks for blogging your notes). I'll send you a bottle if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to mix sipping the Lagavulin with downing a whisky cask-aged beer. Doesn't work at all: neither drink comes out of the experience well, great though they might be on their own.

Leigh said...

Yep - fully agree. there's something about christmas that is purely great for beer. My personal fave - Schnieder Aventinus. Christmas in a glass.