Mix-A-Six: Holiday Party Beers

What to tote along to the next shindig.

By Suzanne Woods
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Dec. 3, 2009

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On Donner, on Blitzen, on your beer!

Photo by leff, via Flickr.

Troegs Mad Elf 11% abv

Mad Elf is sold before it’s even brewed. I had a chalice sitting about 30 seconds when a gnat touched down -- that’s how sweet it is. Pennsylvania honey, Oregon cherries, and chocolate malt are tangled up in this copper-colored Christmas beer. Buy a 22-ounce bomber or get even more bombed with a three-liter jeroboam for about $65. If you need further convincing, the Foodery says it is the beer shop’s number one seller. $7.95

North Coast’s Old Rasputin XII Russian Imperial Stout 11.2% abv

It’s a sticker shocker for sure. But it’s also a Russian Imperial Stout aged nine months in 12-year-old bourbon barrels and it’s a blitzkrieg of bourbon aroma that would make Bukowski proud. Gift with caution, grab the whiskey-smitten drinkers who also have a thing for bitter sweet chocolate and go into the “side room” where only the people that “get it” will get it. $32.95

Southern Tier Krampus: Imperial Helles 9% abv

What the hell is a Helles and who the hell is Krampus? Helles is German for bright. Think pilsner with more bready malt character and in this case with Willamette hops that give the beer horns. While Santa’s giving presents, another mythical creature, Krampus, is like the Christmas devil-handing out punishments to the ill-behaved. I’ll trade in visions of sugar plums for this amped pilsner cousin and if this hop dream is punitive- I’ma gonna get a wee naughty this winter. $16.50

Flying Fish Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout 7.1% abv

Oh “Joisey”- I’d love to hate you, but you’ve bred the Boss and one of the season’s best stouts. Oysters and stout, a classic pairing for the working class of 18th-century England, has resurfaced in one handsome 750 ml package as part of the Cherry Hill brewery’s Exit Series, paying homage to all the good stuff the Garden State has to offer. Brewer Casey Hughes adds a mesh bag of whole oysters during the boil. The shell’s calcium carbonate dries out the beer. Flying Fish has also assembled Exit series gift packs including 4 and 11. $13.95

Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor 11% abv

I still flirt with the country of beer and chocolate from time to time, but my Belgian phase was 2006. It was then I had my first GCGC of the E in Monks front dining room. I was sipping on rum raisins and caramel apples that were only brewed once a year on February 24th, Emperor Charles the V’s birthday. Do dazzle the host by bringing this to the holiday shindig, but don’t be surprised if you end up drinking it the following year. $17.50

McChouffe 8% abv

This is a perfect example of the “blonde” getting all the attention. LaChouffe is the brewery’s most popular beer, but brunette, McChouffe, is just as worthy. This scotch ale has notes of spice, chocolate, and dark fruits with a hint of alcoholic heat. There’s a cheeky gnome on the bottle that appears to be up to no good. I also recommend N’ice Chouffe, their Christmas beer, where the addition of thyme and Curacao make eating Aunt Eileen’s fruitcake a bit more bearable. $15.25

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