How To Drink At Christmas

WHat to drink at Christmas? Well, probably quite a lot, and probably accompanied by quite a lot of food. Possibly with quite a few others around to share with.

Cava, Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rioja… Yep, sure, could go down that road. Classic. Safe. Or, you could be that legend that shows up with a selection of craft beers, the bold thinker, the avant garde experimenter.

So here are a few tips on how to beerify your Christmas...

It’s a Marathon

The pigs in blankets are swarming the room; the vol au vents are being picked off one by one; there’s some kettle crisps and 2 or more dips to choose from. It’s very easy to get carried away at this point. 10% this and 12% that.

In these opening rounds find yourself a good 5% or lower sessionable beer. Lager will do fine if that’s your preference, as would a good table beer or Session IPA. I’ll be wading through those appetisers with some San Frutos Pilsner, Oso Flores Session IPA or Kernel Table Beer. Small sips, ease into it. Good flavour, balance and mouthfeel. No need to think about it too much.

The Main Event

With all drinks there’s a classic Christmas conundrum: do I pair something with the turkey, which isn’t doing a lot of the work flavourwise, or do I just have my favourite drop because it’s Chrimbo. I go more for the latter, but with a bit of both. Fruited sours across the spectrum will work, sweeter numbers such as Oso Frutal and Garage Runnin’ for Mayor are good as are of course the Kriek’s and Framboise’s from Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen if you’re not afraid to splash out a little.

And crack out that special bottle. This is the time! If you’ve picked up a special can of IPA get stuck into it. A tin of 8,5% DIPA with the meal should sit nicely. I’ve got a can of Oso Madrileño Chapter IV sitting in the fridge waiting. Stone fruits and smooth bitterness will wash that turkey and trimmings down a treat.

Cheese Time

You’ll want at least three cheeses on the board for Christmas. And with the wonderful diversity of cheese styles you can pair a different drop to each.

I’ll likely save a little slosh of the 3 Fonteinen Framboos I cracked with the turkey and have a glass with any soft goat or sheep’s cheese. As well as anything not too strong. Then I’m battling a big stinky blue with a big Imperial Stout. Oso Selva Negra works for me. Not too rich, not too dry, comfortable against the salty, tanginess of the blue. Most big stouts will do a good job here. Some adjuncts are good for a cheese pair, but nothing too sweet for me. I don’t want to take too much away from the cheese.

The Aftermath

You’ve already had too much. Of everything. If you can get a half hour walk in it’ll do the world of good.

What to drink next? By this point I don’t need too much of anything. I’ll opt for a nice bottle to share, between 4 or 5. Your palate has worked hard so you’re probably best getting some nice simple flavours in there. Barrel aged stouts or big brown ales work. I’ll get stuck into the Zorro by Cervecera Peninsula. First BA stout release from a programme that promises much.

That’s that. We’re lucky as beer drinkers with the variety on offer at the moment. There really is a beer for every moment. Easy drinkers better than ever and a cracking array of special drops for big occasions.

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