When the beer enthusiast in your life asks you tomorrow, “What’d Santa bring me?” what are you going to say? “Uh… a gift card? A ‘Global Boutique’ sampler pack of beer you can’t get regularly and of suspect quality?” Come on. Christmas is a special occasion, and it calls for special beer.
Beer nerds, like yours truly, like to keep a stash of age-worthy items in the dark corners of the floor of a closet, ready for battle. These are beers that can stick around for a while, but you also wouldn’t mind drinking when duty calls. Question is what is good enough to be a Christmas gift and can either be enjoyed that night or kept around for collector street cred?
When cellaring beer, the two rules of thumb are color and hop content. I’d recommend against India Pale Ale or anything really hoppy as the lupulin oils found in hops will oxidize after about 5-6 months and make the beer taste like old, canned pineapple juice. However, there are a few Black IPAs (aka Cascadian Dark Ale) that develop some interesting characteristics over time, just don’t keep them around too long. Stay away from anything light of color; blonde, lager/pilsner, hefeweizen, etc. Dark beer is ideal, especially stout and porter.
Almost all Belgian beer is bottle-conditioned, meaning the brewers dosed the beer with a hit of new yeast prior to capping. The tiny air gap in the top of the bottle has just enough oxygen to let those microscopic critters continue to slowly chew up any residual sugars in the beer and minimally adjust the alcohol content. And because Belgian beer – save Belgian Pale Ale – is defined more by its grain bill and yeast strain than hops, pretty much all Belgians are good to age and really undergo a transformation after a year or two. Again, though, the darker the better.
Alcohol content seems to go hand-in-hand with dark, cellar-safe brews. I’ve yet to find hard evidence on ABV percentage aiding preservation, but I’ve also yet to see a cellar with beer less than 7%. Just keep those bottles in a cool, dark place.
My eyes are bigger than my liver sometimes and it turns out I’ve got a lot of high-end bottles at Hopjacks Downtown that, due to price point, don’t sell well in a restaurant environment. This is why I’m selling these items at a serious discount today. I’ve got last-minute-gift rarities from Cigar City, Avery, Swamp Head, Petrus and many more.
Come find me in the office between 11 am and 5 pm and there might be some Dark Truth Imperial Stout bottles left. Part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series, this intense, rich, smoky stout is a study in espresso, licorice, fig and plum flavors. Silky and dangerously drinkable, this 9.7% stout will look great under the Christmas tree.
Interested in something a little more fresh for dinner? We sell growlers of draft beer at Hopjacks Downtown, too! Something for every beer aficionado you know. Merry Christmas, y’all!