Thursday, January 6, 2011

Late Post for Late Beer

Last Christmas I put together a basket consisting of my favorite holiday specials; I’m not talking about “A Christmas Story,” “Trapped in Paradise,” or “Ernest Saves Christmas” but good guess. These were beer baskets consisting of some combination of Delerium Noel, Troegs Mad Elf, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, and N’ice Chouffe. I happen to enjoy all of the aforementioned (especially back to back) but Holiday Ales are much like Pumpkin Ales: individual tastes vary a lot more when spices are involved.

Let’s take a brief detour and examine a phenomenon I’m calling “Pumpkin Mouth Syndrome,” or PMS for short (forgive me.) When you’re experiencing PMS you view the world differently, depending on what time of year it is. Starting in late September consumables featuring copious amounts of gourd flesh cause mouth watering sensations regardless of whether it’s muffins, soup, or beer. If this didn’t happen in a cyclic pattern every year Pumpkin could have been the next miracle food; it’d be right up there with Goji, Acai, and crunch berries. Alas, like most good seasonal fads: shelf life is limited.

'tis the Season?
Meandering around to my point (just past the oxbow,) let me present this simple test for PMS: It’s July and you’ve just finished a rousing game of backyard badminton. Nothing goes better with casual athletics than beer, so you open the fridge. How good does a nice cold Pumpkin Ale sound? If you cringed, you probably have PMS. If you thought, “How many are in the fridge?” you coincidentally probably have alcoholism.

The Pumpkin Ale season lasts while the weather is cold which is generally from September to February. Inside this seemingly narrow window is another beer season: Christmas Ale. I bring all this up because I’m just at the point where I wouldn’t buy pumpkin ale or Christmas ale but I’d drink them if they were on hand. If any of you got them as thoughtful holiday gifts, read on.

Here’s some advice: Drink your pumpkin ale now if it still appeals to you (since it generally doesn’t store well.) If it’s stopped appealing to you make a pumpkin rarebit soup out of it. Enjoy some of your holiday ale now and especially if it’s not high ABV. The high ABV stuff stores really well and might be even better after it’s aged for a year. I had the St. Bernardus Christmas from last year about a week ago and it was much tastier than this year’s. It’s still the height of the Christmas Ale season, but February will be here before you know it.

Cyclical seasons are a normal part of life which we often forget about. In the not too distant past oranges were expensive in December. Beer is no different but unlike oranges it won’t turn blue if you leave it in the garage for a year. To sum it up, drink some seasonal beer while it’s fresh but store the high ABV and hoppy stuff until the season rolls around again. Trust me, pumpkin ale with lime doesn’t beat a corona on the beach.

1 comment:

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