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The Drunken Intellectual's Holiday Beer Drinking Guide

A little beer to keep you warm...
A little beer to keep you warm...

Here we go, boys and girls.

This weekend (actually starting tonight) begins the roughly 5-week-long celebration known to many as "The Holidays". That phrase means different things to different people and different faiths (or lack thereof?), but we can all agree that to most of us, it means more celebratin'! Also known as "drinking to help tolerate family, Christmas music*, and holiday movies", this period between the kick-off chaos of the night before Thanksgiving and the New Year's Day hangover offers a volume of opportunities for carousing that is rivaled by few other times.

But I'm not here to tell you where to imbibe over the next month. I'm not one to plan that far ahead. (You can check out Drink Baltimore for that info if you like...) No, I'd rather just give you some tips on WHAT to imbibe. And while we all know that a little red wine pairs well with friends and family, I'm going to switch it up and throw in some good, holiday beer. So here are just a few brews that will complement that Thanksgiving meal, or that Christmas party, perfectly...

  • Pumpkin beers
    If you can still find 'em, stock up. Nothing goes better with pumpkin pie and cranberries if you ask me, but stick to the less sweet versions. Keep an eye out for Flying Dog's The Fear, Dogfish Head's Punkin, and Shlafly's Pumpkin Ale. Rare to find them this late in the Fall, but they work well with the seasonal foods.
  • Brown ales and Marzens
    In my mind, these maltier, but not too dark, brews go perfectly with the heartly autumn cornucopia you'll be facing. They also tend to be lighter in alcohol than some of the bigger IPA's and stouts out there... meaning you'll be able to enjoy a few more and not pass out right after dinner (unless the food coma gets you, of course). Try an Abita Amber or Brooklyn Brown Ale on for size.
  • Belgian saisons and tripels
    These are just plain good beers. And the lighter body gives you room to work with the meal. Basically, I try to avoid major hoppage with dinner unless I've got some spicy food in front of me. And these tend to have that subtle sweetness to balance the inevitably starchy side dishes. Perhaps a little Ommegang Hennepin or Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Tripel (a local favorite!) might do the trick.
  • Winter seasonals
    Sure this is a big category, but I'm talking about the traditional spiced, dark ales and lagers that grace our presence starting in November. These might be best for after the meal, but they will settle any stomach, and finish off an evening quite well... especially the bigger ones. Whether you're downing a Heavy Seas Winter Storm, a Sierra Nevada Celebration, or the bad-nanimous champion, Troegs Mad Elf, you'll feel better about all that crap you said over dinner.

Anyway, I do hope you all have one hell of a fine holiday season. And if you're up to it, join me for a brew sometime. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know where to find me. And if not... well, I don't even know you anymore!

Whatever you do, remember to drink well...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark Burlet

Drunken Intellectual

Twitter: @DrunkIntellect

*Full disclosure: I actually LIKE some Christmas music (especially the choral stuff), but don't tell anyone, ok?


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