The question of what is the perfect Xmas ale is one I have often asked myself, but as luck would have it, last year a chance encounter with Saint Nick himself (as I sat in front of the box watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve) finally laid the question to rest.
What follows is a transcript of the short beer conversation we had (Santa seemed in a rush… something about NZ being his first stop of many).
Me: Santa, this really is a fabulous surprise - thank you so much for agreeing to have a chat on the topic of the perfect Xmas ale.
Santa: Ho ho ho… I’ve always been a big fan of Beer Cellar and your stunning lineup of brews, so you are very much welcome.
Me: Santa you are too kind. So, tell me, what will you be drinking this Xmas?
Santa: Well… for me, the Xmas Day campaign will start with something light and lagery… a decent pilsner or perhaps a Weihenstephaner Helles or two. I love the crisp attack and after a hard night’s work - you really need to ease into these things. I might follow this with a decent English ale… perhaps a Fuller’s ESB or a Timothy Taylor Landlord - nothing too heavy mind, but a bit more malt to prep the palate for lunch.
Me: A man after my own heart. And what about with the lunch? I presume you are a turkey man?
Santa: Oh yes, very much so - it’s turkey all the way in the Claus household! I like to get a bit winey with the lunch beer… something with a touch of sourness and a bit of acidity, and I guess you really can't beat a Duchesse de Bourgogne in this case. The acidity really helps cut through the rich gravy that Mrs Claus likes to make.
Me: Sounds fab, and what about with the pudding?
Santa: Ahh the pud - it’s the main event for me! You need something with real body and a bit of sweetness to go with all those stewed dark fruits. This year I’m going to give Dogfish Head’s Fruit-Full Fort a go. My gosh, what a cracking beer that is… sweet yet hoppy and oozing with red fruits and offering a sherry-like quality that I imagine could work nicely with the pud…
Me: Yes, that is a stunning beer and a great choice for the ultimate Xmas ale. Will that be it for the day?
Santa: Christmas Day comes but once a year, so I do like to round things off with one last moment of indulgence as I don the slippers and crank up the fire. My final tipple is usually the St Bernardus Kerst Christmas Ale. A seasonal offering… a bit like myself, and which even has a little old man on the front with a hat just like mine. It’s like they brewed it with me in mind! It's just so thick and creamy with festive notes of chestnuts, chocolate and dried fruits - it really is Xmas in a glass.
Me: Thanks Santa, that's a great sounding lineup!
Santa: You are most welcome. Now I really must be off - these presents don’t deliver themselves. One more thing, although I do appreciate all the glasses of milk that get left out for me, perhaps you could pass on to your customers that I really would prefer a milk stout at the end of the day!
There you go, a few great options from the man himself and, it’s quite odd really, as I seem to have covered most of them in the blog this year!
Whatever you end up drinking this Christmas - enjoy the day.