Christmas Beers And Why They Are LAME

 

 

What makes a Christmas beer a Christmas beer? A quick stop by your local beer store will most likely have dozens of different seasonal beers that are made specifically with Christmas in mind. What is going through the brewer’s minds when they think, ‘this tastes like Christmas’?

WDA_christmasbeers

There has been a recent trend of giving beers novelty flavors. In Autumn we see all sorts of pumpkin flavored beer. Oskar Blues’ Death by Coconut has just gone national (tastes more like a Starbucks concoction than beer). Why is this though? When did it become so commonplace to have these Christmas flavors in beer?

death by coconut

What even is a Christmas flavor? Who decided? I think the Eggnog and Gingerbread Corporations have some explaining to do.

Obviously, it makes sense to release novelty flavors for breweries to set themselves apart. However, it seems like there is a trend that is growing in which breweries are trying to take their beer and make it not taste like beer. Sort of like how Starbucks has made an empire out of making coffee not taste like coffee. 

Now I know we can get into the whole, “what is beer supposed to taste like then?” argument because there are so many different breweries and types of beer styles it may sound off-base to ask that breweries move away from this trend of flavoring their beer. My argument centers around how: I think breweries should move away from trying to get their beers to taste like something else, and rather, they should try and develop a flavor that is uniquely beer.

When we look at the wines of the world, yes there are wines meant to taste like cupcakes designed for Alabama sorority girls. However, there are also wines that are mastercraft. Wines that have not tried to become anything that they are not. These wines become distinct for their regions and grapes and whatever else I’m forgetting from Somm.

cupcakeriesling

The Reason I make the comparison to wine is because I think that Beer is going in the direction of wine. There are different regions, histories and different strains of barley, and hops, and yeast which in many ways can make beers more complex than wine. Beer collecting and tasting are becoming more commonplace. Because of this, I think it is important for breweries to compete in a way that leads to perfecting beer instead of being distracted by making Girl Scout cookie inspired beers.   

I like novelty beers as much as the next guy, but that is all they will be to me. Novelties. When I drink a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream beer it is enjoyable but I do not take it seriously as a beer.

This is not to say that breweries need to have an air of snobbery. Many breweries have fun eclectic vibes, and you can usually taste that in their flagships. The starbucksafication of beers is playing too much to a commercial market instead of trying to pave a new way.

This brings me to my point, choosing Christmas beers. If you’re going to a party, or drinking on christmas eve, or maybe stuck in an airport, get a beer that makes you think of Christmas, not what the breweries think your Christmas should be. Christmas, although a time of gathering is also a deeply personal holiday.

Christmas is usually a time of reflection being that for most people it is spent inside avoiding the cold. This is combined with the anticipation of the new year and the goodbye to the old year. These introspective moments pair well with your favorite beer and long thoughtful looks out the window.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog

You can go to a ‘top 10 beers to drink for christmas’ article that will tell you to drink ‘Goose Island’s (aka: Budwiser Craft) eggnog beer’ and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I guess that what I am trying to get at though is search yourself and think of some of the beers you have had over this past year and try allowing that to be your christmas beer. Do not let the Starbucks philosophy of flavoring everything to taste like candy control you.     

goose eggnog

-Sam Hill, sam@crushbrew.com

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