DCP Guide to Holiday Drinking – Part 1
Halloween is long gone and we’re all already annoyed with the Christmas music on the radio. Life is starting to get frantic in the way that only November and December can bring. Dayton City Paper understands and wants to help you navigate the holidays with class and style. That’s why we bring you this year’s Guide to Holiday Drinking. Part One below focuses on the November holidays; look for your end-of-the-year holiday guide next month.
The day before Thanksgiving
The day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for bars. It’s an unofficial holiday, with old friends coming back into town and wanting to share a pint or relatives imbibing social lubricant before facing their families. The night can get hairy, so a word to the wise: go small. T-giving Eve is not the time to get knockered on barleywines and Russian imperial stouts. This is a social night, so play it cool to go the distance. No one wants to be hungover at Thanksgiving dinner, especially if dinner includes heaps of family issues served with your turkey and mashed potatoes. Though winter seasonals will be on tap at the bar, save them for later. Instead, reach for a low ABV, mild, brown ale or session IPA. New Holland’s Cabin Fever clocks in at a reasonable 6 percent ABV, which is lower than most winter seasonals. Wanna go local? Look for Toxic Brew Company’s Three Two Throwback Porter on tap at their brewery, or Yellow Springs Brewing Company’s Kerfuffle English Mild at bars around town – both beers are hover around 3 percent ABV. To indulge a bit of pumpkin flavor in your warmup, grab a Pumpkin Ale from Dayton Brewing Company, which clocks in around 6 percent ABV.
When considering what to drink on Thanksgiving, realize that this day is an epic journey, with many twists and turns. No one single beer will get you through this event, so plan accordingly. Whether you’ll be up at dawn baking pies and peeling potatoes, or simply acting like a couch potato while watching football, start the day with something lighter, but flavorful – something that won’t dull your taste buds. Pick a crisp lager like Bell’s Lager Beer or Great Lakes Dortmunder. As you get closer to dinner, ratchet up the flavor with an IPA or two. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is a long-time favorite of this writer. At the dinner table, look for something that will cut through the fats and starches of the turkey, gravy and grandma’s green bean casserole. Belgian and Saison style beers work well here, so grab a growler of Yellow Springs Brewing Company’s Captain Stardust Saison or Toxic Brew Company’s Abby’s Cure, a Belgian Tripel. When it’s time for pie, go big. Reach for dark, rich, boozy beers. Regional favorites include Hoppin’ Frog BORIS, Great Lakes Blackout Stout or Triple Digit Decimation Wheat Wine.
Not since 1888 has the start of Hanukkah coincided with Thanksgiving – and it won’t happen again for many, many more lifetimes. To start the festival of lights off right, reach for a He’Brew, one of several “Chosen Beers” offered from Schmaltz Brewing Company. Schmaltz offers an appropriately-sized holiday eight pack that includes Messiah Nut Brown Ale, Funky Jewbelation (barrel aged), Rejewvenator, St. Lenny’s Belgian Rye Double IPA, R.I.P.A. on Rye, Reunion ’13, Death of a Contract Brewer and Jewbelation Reborn. The gift pack comes with a custom glass and eight candles so that, according to the company’s website (shmaltzbrewing.com), you can “build and light your own beer Menorah.” Have your out-of-state friends pick you up a pack or travel to Kentucky to get one. Ohio’s archaic ABV limits prevent Jewbelation Reborn from being sold here because the beer clocks in at 17 percent ABV – Ohio limits beers to 12 percent ABV.
There are pretty much only two choices on how to spend your Black Friday. You can wake up at the butt crack of dawn and go shopping or you can ignore the whole mess and drink the day away. For those of you intent on reenacting the 1979 Who concert stampede at the gates of your local Target, consider instead some local choices – ones that includes good beer. Lock 27 in Centerville serves excellent food and has several of their own beers on tap at any given time, perfect for a midday shopping respite. Or make holiday gifts of beer – Fifth Street Brewpub, the only cooperatively owned brewery in Ohio, offers owner shares at $125 each so you can give the gift of bar ownership this year. For those of you sane enough to sleep in and drop out on Black Friday, start the day with a Founder’s Breakfast Stout. Made with chocolate, coffee and oatmeal, it’s everything you want for breakfast in a convenient, liquid form. Then, with your free day smack in the middle of a four-day weekend, consider taking up homebrewing. The folks at BrewTensils in Belmont can set you up with everything you need to make your own holiday beers.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kevin J. Gray at KevinGray@DaytonCityPaper.com.