Spreading Holiday Beer

By Kirby Bennett

For those of us who leave a bottle of barley wine and dark chocolate for Santa instead of the traditional milk and cookies, the ubiquitous wine selection and lack of craft beer at holiday parties can be frustrating. Here are some ways to be sure craft beer plays a leading role in your holiday imbibing!

Host a Holiday Beer Exchange

Ask each guest to bring a favorite craft beer—specify bomber, growler or six-pack. Create a theme and encourage guests to stick to it! Some ideas are seasonal, local or a beer from their hometown or favorite vacation spot.

The Setup

Have guests pile their beers on a table and arrange a centerpiece display for the game. Hint: Use boxes to elevate the beers to make the display look like the bounty of craft beer it is! If the guests don’t know each other, create a great conversation starter by giving them name tags where they can include the beer they brought along with their name.

The Game

Each guest that brought a beer will draw a numbered ticket (folded pieces of paper work just fine). The guest who holds number one gets to choose any beer from the table. For the consecutively numbered tickets, each player can either choose another beer from the table or take a beer from someone who has already chosen. If someone’s beer is stolen, it’s now their turn to select a new beer (they cannot steal back the beer that was just taken from them). You can make up other rules to keep the game going or to speed it up. The most important thing is to have fun with it!

Other Beer-ified Holiday Party Ideas

  • Host a blind tasting where guests have to guess the style or brewery.
  • Include trivia at your party with prizes from your local brewery.
  • Have a silent auction for guests with a few rare or hard to find craft beers.
  • Create beer and food pairings for your guests and have them vote for their favorites.

Gift Ideas for Craft Beer Lovers

Want to get that special craft beer enthusiast in your life something besides beer? Ever notice how many gadgets there are for oenophiles and how few there are for craft beer drinkers? Here are some wine gadgets that will double as perfect gifts for beer lovers, too.

  • Bomber stoppers: For the rare occasion there is some leftover beer in that cork and cage-style bomber, this will help save the carbonation. Don’t use the vacuum-style pump savers, as they will pull the carbonation out during the pumping process.
  • Textured glass drying mats: They may have a wine glass on the package, but they are great for drying tulips, flutes, and other beer glasses too! The raised texture of these mats allows for airflow into the glass while drying, preventing the build-up of aromas and condensation that a flat surface or towel would permit.
  • Label removers: Craft beer scrapbooking? You bet. This handy tool is basically a giant piece of heavy-duty tape that allows you to save a bottle label. If you want to go a step further, get them a scrapbook to put the labels in with room to add tasting notes.
  • Bottle thermometer: To help ensure proper serving temperature, these thermometers fit around a 750ml bottle like a wristwatch and digitally display the temperature, which is slightly classier than using your stick-on carboy thermometer. They also make ones for baby bottles that fit on 12oz bottles if you can find one without pastel baby animals on it.
  • Bottle chiller: Ever get gifted a bottle of craft beer that you’d like to drink right away, but it’s not chilled? Violá! The bottle chiller is here to save the day by chilling that bottle in a fraction of the time it would take the silly old fridge.
  • Glass markers: There are a plethora of different ones out there, so you can be sure to find some that are just perfect. Or better yet, make your own!
  • Cellaring tags: Bottle tags that make it easy to label, organize and locate cellared bottles. For the ultimate craft beer collector, cellaring tags are the perfect gift!

What other things do you do to craft beer-ify your holidays?