This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our Eastern Canada craft beer guy, David Ort, as he takes a look at a few holiday beers thatcould make a great host or hostess gift... or do very nicely as a Christmas present to yourself!
"Oh, a bottle of Yellow Tail sparkling, that's just what we hoped someone would bring us!" That’s the reaction of exactly zero hosts and hostesses when their holiday party guests present them with yet another generic knock-off champagne. Don’t get me wrong, I think offering a ribbon-wrapped bottle is a perfectly appropriate way to say thank you to someone who has invited you into their home this December. I just wish we would show a little more originality with our selection.
Naturally, as a beer columnist I have my favourite beverage in mind for the starring role. But note: this is no time for casting a few workmanlike cans of William H. Macy-esque stout, or a six-pack of something-for-everyone Kevin Bacon session ale. It's Jennifer Lawrence-style star power that's called for; beers that make an impression and steal the show.
Amsterdam Reserve Saison
Saisons are usually delicious, but also quite similar to each other. The problem is that Dupont’s Vieille Provision is so good that three quarters of the beers with “saisons” on the label are just copycats of this category leader. I’m pleased to see that Amsterdam’s Iain McOustra has decided to go his own way and make a reserve version of the style with wine barrels, brettanomyces, and beer that is up to three years old.
A resilient and fluffy white foam caps this bright orange-gold beer. It puts off a wonderful aroma that combines roasted peaches, ripe apricots, and a touch of oak character. The brett contributes whiffs of barnyard funk and lactic sourness. The flavour has an ageless elegance that is both fruity sweet and pleasingly deep. The finish is crisp and sour.
ABV 6.5% Available in ON
Le Trou du Diable Dulcis Succubus
“What’s your favourite beer?” is a question I try very hard to avoid. The answer varies depending on mood, food, and situation. But in the moments when my resolve weakens Dulcis Succubus always seems to always make it onto my short list of my favourite, regularly produced Canadian beers.
It’s a sour ale. Somehow, that usually brings out a “this beer may not be for everyone” disclaimer. By all rights that should read “if you like the acidity in just about every red wine on the planet, you won’t have a problem with this.”
This golden ale balances its characteristic tartness with plenty of lighter berry and citrus aromas and flavours. The clean, slightly bitter finish sets it up perfectly to pair with a wide variety of rich, fried food.
ABV 7% Avaialable in QC, ON
Dulcis Succubus and Amsterdam’s Reserve Saison are two relatively difficult beers to find. Happily, December is a good time to wander into your local brewery and ask: “what’s special and unusual?” As well, these two will age wonderfully for at least a couple years under good conditions, so if you do find them stock a few away for the ghost of holiday parties future.
A secondary benefit to these choices is that they'll hold up just as well on New Year's Eve for a second run. You don't need me to tell you that that is a night that calls for pizzazz, but it's also one when beer’s lower ABV is appreciated.
David Ort writes about food, travel, and craft beer for various online and print publications. His first book, The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, is in bookstores and available for purchase online. For more of his thoughts on all things edible and potable follow him on Twitter or get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.