News & Discussion

Black Friday and Holiday Season Brews

So, today is Black Friday. One of the most horrendous and potentially rewarding days to shop all year. Whether you are looking to buy that special rare beer for your boyfriend or home-brewing cousin, or simply in need of a beer to ease off the tension of waiting in line in the cold at 4am only to discover the item you were in search of has sold out, I have the beer for you!

BLACK FRIDAY

I really don’t believe you’ll see much (if any) Black Friday-specific beer sales, but you never know. What I would expect is to possibly see a few bars offer deals today. If you have a favorite watering hole that serves up fresh craft beer, I highly encourage you to “like” them on Facebook or to follow them on Twitter to get up-to-the-minute details on specials for the day.

That said, for those in Northeast Ohio Hoppin’ Frog Brewery is selling two special beers today and tomorrow. They’ll be open from 10AM to 5PM both days.

  • The first beer is a returning holiday special: Barrel-Aged Frosted Frog Christmas Ale. The base beer is really spicy in all the ways that remind you of Christmas – ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add several months in bourbon barrels and the beer mellows on the spice a bit, and gains oaken vanilla complexity and a bit of sweet whiskey heat. $12.99 for a 22oz bottle.
  • The other beer is a first-time brew: B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Batch #100. While not extensively different from the regular brew, this batch was brewed with all English Pale Malt instead of American malt which is typically used. The English malt will add a sweeter flavor and fuller-bodied finish to an already award-winning beer (which won Gold at the Great American Beer Festival again this year). I am really excited for this myself. $10.99 for a 22oz bottle.

Both of these won’t last long, so it might be a smart idea to include a trip to the brewery amongst your holiday shopping throughout the weekend. I’ll be drinking my BORIS #100 soon after purchase, but both beers would also make fine gifts.

The next beer may not be quite as easy to track down, but as a gift idea, this beer is pretty cool: Thirsty Dog, also out of Akron, has produced a very limited quantity of 1.5 Liter bottles of their own Barrel-Aged 12 Dogs of Christmas. These bottles were hand numbered and signed by the brewers. Check with the brewery too, but last I heard they had some bottles left at Lizardville bar and bottle shop in Bedford Hts. I believe they were going for $40 a bottle – but consider that 1.5L is close to 50 ounces (4x 12oz bottles). Certainly a beer to share, but a cool gift idea or implement of holiday cheer at a party! If Lizardville is out, the store itself should suit your beer shopping needs anyway, as they sell a few hundred different beers there.

BEER GIFT IDEAS

Glassware: Every beer drinker likes a cool beer glass to drink out of, and these days it’s very easy to find some awesome glassware to suit anyone’s needs. I recommend having different glassware styles on hand to pair with the appropriate brew, and some people just like the cool or sophisticated look of an expensive glass. Maybe you just want to support a local brewer… there are many great reasons out there, and most glasses are relatively cheap, and are a functional and lasting gift. A few choice pieces:

  • Duvel

Duvel does a great job of providing awesome glassware to the world. The pictured tulip style glass can hold more than 12oz of beer with plenty of head space to spare. It’s an awesome way to focus the aroma of a Belgian style ale or your favorite pungent IPA. This time of year gift sets show up in many stores, seek them out. The “Parra” glass has quickly become very sought after, and offers the most unique artwork Duvel has to offer:

  • Lost Abbey


Their abbey-style tulip is one of the most jarringly impressive glasses out there. This can only be bought on site (in California) or online. With shipping a single glass costs roughly $12. Buy one before they run out (which happens often).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Founders

Recently their CBS beer (Canadian Breakfast Stout) caused quite a stir in the craft beer community when the much sought-after beer sold out in hours across the country. People waited in lines outside their local liquor stores just for a shot at buying a bottle. While the beer has all been sold, the brewery still has limited edition CBS snifters for sale. These sleek glasses will hold a sizable amount of your favorite brew, in my favorite fashion. Snifters really allow a beer to settle, open up aromatically, and focus all of the senses into a small area between the nose and the lips. At $8 this is a bargain. Sold on their website, along with a few other cool glasses to boot.

Finally, if you want something specific, just look for your favorite brewery’s website: most breweries offer a selection of pint glasses and other more unique pieces with their logo on it. The best option, where possible, is to gift not only the glass, but a beer to go with it. If you could give that special someone a bottle of CBS and its very own snifter that is a gift that would really stand out.

Gift sets:

I already showed you a Duvel gift set. These are convenient gift ideas that usually won’t break the wallet or force you to scour the city in search of multiple pieces of a gift that are not sold together. My one suggestion here: please look over the contents of the gift set. The thought may count for something, but no one wants to open a gift of beer, only to discover that it contains beers that the person doesn’t like. Some sets showcase many different styles by the brewery, and others contain 1, 2, or 4 bottles of the exact same beer. All of this should be taken into account.

The Trappist style brewers are known for their gift sets, and often have very fun glassware included, but more and more I am seeing American craft beer gift sets pop up during the holidays as well.

SEASONAL BEERS TO ENJOY OVER THE HOLIDAYS

Ohio Brewed:

  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Blackout Stout
  • Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas
  • Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale
  • Columbus Brewing Winter Warmer

Other terrific beer’s to seek out:

  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  • Samuel Adams Black Lager
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • Bells Expedition Stout, Hell Hath No Fury Ale
  • Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
  • Founders Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard
  • Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
  • Left Hand Fade to Black

Finally, if you’re so-inclined, many serious beer drinkers actually trade beer through UPS or FedEx with people on the other side of the country who get beer that doesn’t normally get sold in your home state. If you want to locate something with some serious oomph to it, I recommend these new and upcoming beer releases:

  • Firestone Walker 15th Anniversary Ale
  • Goose Island King Henry Barrel-Aged Barleywine
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
  • Pelican Mother of All Storms
  • Bruery Black Tuesday, Barrel-Aged Four Calling Birds

I could go on forever, so to shorten things up, please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or want more info on any of the suggestions I have made. Have fun shopping for beer this weekend. Stay safe, and try not to kill the idiot who’s going to steal that gift out of your hands at Walmart or Best Buy. Beer heals all.

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Big Beer Marketing Offers Big Laughs

Driving home from work tonight I stumbled upon the following billboard:

I couldn’t help but laugh… and then I had to pull over to snap a quick photo to share with you.

But this is all just part of an ever-increasing trend of bad gimmicks the big brewers are using to try and save plummeting sales. Coors is likely the worst player in this game however. First they invent the label that changes color when cold – does a person really need this to make a determination on the temperature of their beer? Seriously?

Soon enough the cold indicator label wasn’t a good enough way to dumb things down. Anyone remember this game-changing invention?

Boy did I think the color changing label was pointless. How lazy are people? But wait – they’re not all lazy. You can verify this by going to the Coors Light Project Cold website. Watch video “experiments” in which people come up with idiotic ways to chill their beer. The best (worst?) shows a guy in a lab coat immerse a can of beer into liquid nitrogen for 6 minutes, only to eventually proclaim that, yes, indeed his beer is now cold enough to drink. Thank…. you…? I never would have guessed that a half-frozen, sub-freezing temperature beer was cold.

Fail.

So, what is my big argument here? Well, despite my Coors bashing, my real intent isn’t to simply make fun of a beer and advertising that I dislike. Rather, I wanted to discuss one of the reasons I started drinking good beer to begin with – positive advertizing. Years back when I was first testing the waters of beer and drinking Guinness and Harp almost exclusively, I started taking notice of Samuel Adams beer commercials. The contrast between their ads, and those of Big Beer, is astounding. Every single Samuel Adams commercial discusses a quality product: the flavor and types of ingredients used, the passion and dedication that goes into their product. Samuel Adams is selling quality beer, and their marketing is geared towards this. Budweiser, Miller, and Coors sell an image. The closest these breweries come to discussing the actual product is to create a panic over serving temperature or making claims of “triple hops brewed,” which, by the way, is a completely superfluous claim. Hops are typically added at three points in nearly every beer. So maybe the slogan should just be:

“Brewed with hops, just like everyone else does. Only we use so few hops that we have to tell you that they’re in the beer to begin with.”

So, please don’t buy into the hype, the hysteria, or the senseless claims. Look for a quality product and leave the gimmicks, catch phrases, supermodels, and football references behind. Oh, and in the time it took you to read this, the article was able to fully chill down to:

C!O!L!D!

COLD! COLD! COLD!

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Fun New Feature for Tracking Your Beer

I am a big proponent of using the website Beeradvocate.com. It is a wonderful resource for networking with fellow beer enthusiasts. I cannot tell you how many times I have learned of a new beer release, met new friends at beer releases/fests via the website, or simply furthered my own knowledge while using Beeradvocate.com.

Well, for those who don’t feel like taking the time or effort to write up a full beer review, the site owners have just debuted a new feature that allows you to track the beers you have had. All you need to do is search for the beer, give it a letter grade (A+ through F) and select that you have had it. Wow! This is really simple, and I find that it is a great new way to attract people to the website. If you’re beer-curious, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes and sign up for a free account. After that you can start tracking which beers you have had and whether you like them or not.

This is what it will look like:  Beers I have had but not reviewed.

I plan to enumerate other advantages of using this and other beer-centric websites in the future. Hopefully you can find something fun or informative that might encourage you to delve deeper into the goodness that is beer! If you wind up signing up for Beeradvocate please message me here, I would love to share some pointers on using the website and can add you to my buddy list.

 

**And for the beer nerds already among us, here’s the link to the original announcement.

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