Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent Beer

When you're grown up, you tend to miss out on many traditions that you followed, as a kid, during the holiday season. Writing letters to Santa and waiting in long lines in shopping malls to tell him what you want. And advent calendars that helped you count down the days until Christmas, being rewarded by tiny pieces of substandard chocolate.

Okay, maybe miss is a strong word.

For the second year, I've participated in a sharing event with my fellow Ottawa beer aficionados: Advent Beer. Our names are put in to a lot and randomly drawn. You're given a name and you have to collect 24 different cans or bottles of beer, and wrap them with a number. Before December, we met to exchange our pseudo-calendars.

Last year, being my first time participating in this event, I set out to find beer that I had tried and liked. Many of the bottles and cans that I collected were from past beer reviews or were purchased after visiting a few breweries, so I knew what I was giving.

I would never give away a beer that I wouldn't enjoy drinking, myself.

The person who chose my name, however, was a veteran of the event and had a penchant for throwing a couple of dogs into the mix.

On the fifth day, last year, I was treated (?) to a 1.5L can of Labatt's Blue. I took a sip, let my daughters try it (they gagged), and then promptly poured the rest down the drain.

Later, in the coming days, I found a bottle of Shock Top in the mix. Again, I took a sip, to be polite, and then pitched the rest. I didn't even subject my girls to that one.

All the while, I asked my friend, Dave, what I had done to offend him. He just rubbed his hands together and murmured, "Mwah-ha-ha!"

For this year, I drew a new name: Melanie. I didn't know anything about her and she knew nothing of me. That was okay: we'd get to meet down the road and she had nothing to fear from me. I never give away a beer that I wouldn't enjoy myself.

Dave, for his part, drew my name again. In the days leading up to our exchange, he taunted me, saying that he hoped I liked Blue, liked Olde English.

So far, Dave has given me some very nice beer. Brews from Stalwart, Kichesippi, Collective Arts, Nickel Brook, and Big Rig. All the time, I've been waiting for the boot to drop.

Yesterday, for Day 7, I was given a rare treat, and I enjoyed it so much that I was inspired to review it (I bet you were wondering when I'd get to that, weren't you?).

It was delicious.
Delicious IPA (7.7% ABV)
Stone Brewing
Escondido CA
Appearance: a deep, rich, unfiltered apricot with a creamy, off-white head that stayed thick around the rim and left a dense lace in the centre of the glass.

Nose: tropical fruit—pineapple and mango, and faint hops.

Palate: alcohol lead the way, followed closely by bitter grapefruit, and a strong finish of bitter hops that stretch out. I burped fresh grapefruit juice.

Overall impression: while the grapefruit seems to dominate any other citrus flavour, the bitterness seems to be Stone's signature. It's a serious IPA, with a massive punch, backed up by the 7.7 percent alcohol content.

The first mouthful was a sucker punch of booze and bitterness. But secondary sips seemed to balance everything out, and as I got to the end of the glass, I was loving the stuff. And that wasn't just the booze talking.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4

This year's advent calendar is proving that Dave likes me and wants me to drink good beer. That said, maybe he gave me such a great Stone ale because he's setting me up for the next one. The boots haven't dropped yet, and there are still 17 days left.

If you're interested in following my beer exploits, check out my Untappd profile or follow me on Twitter, using the hashtag #AdventBeers.



  1. The above mentioned Dave here... trust me, i snuck something i consider to be a dud in there... *muhahaha*

    1. You don't scare me, Dave. Your dud may, but you don't.