Well we survived the 3rd Annual Advent-ure Calendar! It hasn’t been easy or even convenient for everyone to have to drink a beer every day this month (our bedtime is normally 8:30 during the weekdays), but it sure has been fun to try new beers and retry old ones. As always, we like to get everyone’s final thoughts, reflections, comments, concerns about the process and hopefully we can improve this event for next year!
Beard & Broad
Beard: Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year, but drinking aspect of this calendar makes it that much more enjoyable. It’s not just because I like the variety of beers, but because I enjoy sharing them with friends everyday and hearing their opinions of what they like and don’t like. This year especially we saw a few of our friends’ tastes change. For me, Citra Noel and Sierra Nevada continue to stand out amongst the hoppy beers, but Sleigh All Day from Masthead was also a really nice surprise. I do wish we had more Belgian style ales. Those tend to be some of my favorites around this time of year, so I was happy to have Esther again, but I wish there were a few more options like that amongst the spiced guys. Of those spiced beers, a couple really tried to swing for the fences (3 Ho’s, Yuletide) and a few went the more subtle route (Fistmas, Anchor Christmas Ale). I would like to try to go all-Ohio next year and maybe have each couple do one video review to switch things up a bit. All in all, great group of beers this year with a nice mix of styles, now I’m ready for a little detoxing…after New Year’s.
Broad: I look forward to this every year and this has become not just a favorite blog tradition, but a favorite Christmas tradition. My favorite beer was the Anchor Christmas Ale, it’s just the perfect Christmas ale. My second favorite may have been Uinta Rise & Pine hoppy dark ale. I also really enjoyed some of the hoppier ones such as the Fistmas and Sleigh All Day. I really did not like the super spiced, cinnamon ones such as the 3 Ho’s and Yueltide. I would be willing to try them next year since they are new beers and maybe the recipe will change a bit. I would like to do something different next year. Maybe we do only Ohio Christmas/winter ales. I think there would be more than enough for the event. I also missed having Great Lakes and Thirsty Dog on the list (even though we’ve been drinking them outside the calendar). I would have liked to see how those beers held up against some of the ones we tried.
Adam & Alex
Adam: The few years we’ve done this I have gone in with excitement and then around day 20 I’m all, “Please. No more cinnamon.” But this year we did a great job of getting a variety of flavors and styles so it was a fun sleigh ride the whole time. It jingled all the way. What I love about doing this adventure is that is shows how our tastes change. I used to hate hoppy beers and while I still won’t be grabbing 60 minute IPAs any time soon just yet, I was floored by how much I enjoyed the hoppier holiday beers. In fact, Rise and Pine was my favorite beer of the year. I loved it so much that Beard and Broad brought me more at our annual Saucemas party. Overall this was as enjoyable as always but I am looking forward to a long detox and not trying to take creative pictures for a few weeks. Merry Christmas. Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol.
Alex: I think this year was a good holiday adventure calendar. There was a good variety of beers, and it wasn’t just a holiday spice overload everyday. I think my two favorites were Citra-Noel and Sleigh all Day. My two least favorites were Cinnamon Roll and Three Ho’s. This year definitely made me realized my tastes have changed from the first year we did this. I seem to be enjoying hoppy beers now, which was not true of my younger self. “We’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f***ing Kaye.”
Scott & Christa
Scott: It’s hard to believe I just had 24 different holiday beers for the second year in a row and I know there are still so many out there to try. This year’s selection was so interesting because I felt like I used the same adjectives and descriptions every day (*cough* malty *cough*) but there was quite a variety in styles and taste. I think my favorite this year was a toss up between Sleigh All Day and Citra Noel and my least favorite was a beer that I refuse to speak of again…but you’ll know if you read our reviews. As daunting as it seems at the start of the beer tour, it’s always so much fun to do and slightly sad to know it’s over on Christmas Day.
Christa: This experience has quickly become one of my favorite holiday traditions. Over the years, my tastes in beer have grown and changed. I used to only drink hefeweizens and wheat beers. I wouldn’t touch anything dark, pale, amber or ending in ale. Now, there isn’t a beer I won’t try and luckily, I know my favorites. This time around, we had a really good batch from all over the country. There were some that went a little over board on the spices, tried too many things, some that didn’t taste like anything at all, and some that were fantastic and the holiday beers of all our holiday dreams. But, at the end of the day, even for this girl from Cincinnati, Cleveland beer reigns supreme. Sleigh all Day was my favorite and will be added to our CLE rotation. Now, excuse me while I make room for Christmas Ale, Holly Jolly and 12 Dogs because call us a Mistake by the Lake, boo our sports teams, whatever makes you feel okay, just don’t diss our beers. Merry Christmas everyone! Cheers!
Tony & Megan
Tony: This was one of the most fun beer experiences I’ve been a part of! Definitely spices up the holiday season (pun INtended 😄). Hey, I started with a pun so had to end with one…..Seriously this was so much fun to be a part of! You get to drink a different holiday beer every night, which is awesome in itself, but you also learn a lot as you go. You start to form and sharpen your own tastes but then you also get to hear seven different perspectives on each beer too. Personally I found my own tastes morphing and developing as I went along. I’m really starting to come around on hoppier beers. I enjoy the added depth hops can bring, especially when combined with flavors I enjoy like the chocolates, toffees, coffee, and malts found in darker beers.
Ok now lets talk about the beers: My top five favorite beers were: (1) Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale (2) Rusty Rail Snow Flyer Porter (3) Madtree Brewing Thunder Snow (4) Platform Esther (5) Deschutes Jubilale…….my least favorite were (1) Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll (2) Saucy Brew Works Three Ho’s (3) Southern Tier 2XMAS (4) 21st Amendment Brewery Fireside Chat (5) Masthead Sleigh All Day.
This experience was so much fun theres not much I would change. If I had to pick something I would agree with Megan “Make it Snow” Mistletoe that a rating scale could be fun because then you could add up the scores and see which beers finish at the top, bottom, etc. Alright this paragraph is getting too long so I’ll end with: This was a blast, recommend trying it with your friends, love my fellow bloggers/friends that were a part of it, Beard and Broad are awesome! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Cheers!
Megan: This was so much fun! As a newbie to the Advent calendar, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this has been an awesome experience. I’ve learned a lot about what I like and have been able to try a more diverse group of beers than I would’ve chosen for myself, which is always enlightening. It’s also interesting seeing how your tastes and likes/dislikes evolve as the month goes on.
I liked the Rusty Rail Snow Flyer Porter a lot and bought a couple six packs as presents for some of my porter loving friends. I also really liked the Old Jubilation Ale. I would like to try that again for its spices and malty goodness. I also enjoyed the Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter, Platform’s Esther and Mad Tree Brewing’s Thunder Snow.
Some of my dislikes included some of the more bitter IPAs like Masthead’s Sleigh All Day and Rhinegeist’s Dad, but that just doesn’t fit my pallet. There were a couple that were also just a little on the weirder side. Those include Saucy 3 Ho’s as well as Royal Docks’ Yuletide.
The only thing that I can think to add would be a rating system for each beer like a 1-5 Star (or candy cane) rating system based off of least or most likely to buy again so it’s easier to tally results at the end.
Thank you guys so much for letting us be a part of this! I’ve really enjoyed it and learned so much.