Beer League @TWR: Schlafly Christmas Ale & WHAT’S IN THE BOX!: A very Beer League Gift Exchange

Oh, coffee. You do make the Holidays everything easier. Your sweet bitter nectar warms the tummy and brightens the eyes. And it’s not just whiskey swirling around my mug saying that. You keep me bright and cheery as I mingle through smorgasbords of cheese trays and ______ dips. You dull the rage as nieces and nephews cry about receiving the wrong gift, then promptly pee into the fireplace in anger.

Wait. That was me.

Last year.

But you know what’s better than coffee? It starts with a “C” as well.

Camaraderie.

The thing that I appreciate about Beer League the most is the lighthearted fellowship that comes from gathering with the same group of people every week over a new beer. The joking and teasing, ongoing “in jokes” that you learn after you’ve shown up a week or two. Like wiffle-ball and picnic table related injuries. Or disc-golf horse. Or verbally abusing Rotheweil. Some things are best learned as you go. You ease into Beer League, you don’t jump in like a freckin’ Polar Bear Club.

But let’s forget about that – let’s jump in this Wednesday for an early Christmas Eve Beer League Celebration – WHAT’S IN THE BOX!: A Very Beer League Gift Exchange. It’s your standard fare of White Elephant gift exchange – it doesn’t have to be beer related, but it does have to be awesome. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (like making life-sized marionettes of Rothweil) but the best bad / useless gift will get a trophy. A really, really crappy trophy.

Bring a wrapped gift to add to the pile and around 9-10 we’ll start letting everyone who brought a gift (Or went to Big Lots and bought some XZIBIT deodorant or Paula Deen butter in a jar) take their new gift. The Captaineers will be providing a limited number of extra presents for those of you who are too damn cheap to bring a White Elephant present forgot we were doing a gift exchange. We don’t want anyone to feel left out.

And what’s the one thing better than coffee for listening to the cousin you never see tell you how successful he is? That would be beer. And what better beer to take the edge off of the holidays than a holiday beer – Schlafly Christmas Ale. The always useful Schlafly website describes their Winter Ale as:

Our Christmas Ale is a warming winter ale that blends the spices of the season with sweet caramel malt. Orange peel, juniper berries, ginger root, cardamom and cloves are added for spiciness. We use honey in the fermentation process, which raises the ABV without producing too much heat from the alcohol content.

Many breweries produce richer, higher alcohol beers for the winter holiday season, bolder than their year-round offerings. The inspiration for this beer came from spiced holiday beverages such as wassail and mulled wines. Around the holidays, the sweet and spicy aromas, not to mention the booze, in such libations tend to smooth the rougher edges of enjoying each other’s company and spreading goodwill.

And I found a list of the 31 best Holiday Beers, and Schlafly Christmas Ale ended up smack-dab in the middle. Considering the number of contenders, I love it!

Beer Advocate and RateBeer are pretty much in agreement as well – this is a darn fine holiday-brau, coming in at the mid-80’s on both of the beer aggregators. Not too shabby!

So wrap up that VHS copy of Uncle Buck for WHAT’S IN THE BOX! and hope you don’t get another copy of Leonard Part Six this Wednesday for Christmas Eve Beer League!

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Posted in Beer League, Parties.