BREWTAL TRUTH: The 24 Beers of Xmas

OK, I'll admit up front that this is a total asshole post. It was my intention when I started doing these weekly Brewtal Truth posts to specifically write about beers that are fairly widely distributed in the U.S. and available now. I have made an exception on a couple of occasions, but this one is just egregious. Nonetheless, there is a certain seasonal appropriateness to it, so please forgive the transgression. What I'm about to write about is NOT available in any store at this point. And if you were to secure one now (impossible), it wouldn't be quite the same. What is this of which I speak? An advent calendar filled with 24 craft beers. (At this point I need to mention that the advent calendars discussed here were only available in parts of Canada this year, though next year at least one will be available in the U.S., so please keep reading.)

No matter what your feelings are about the holiday season and celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus, if you're a craft beer drinker, there's no denying the appeal of a mystery case of 24 different bottles of beer that you get to open and drink every day until Dec. 25. This idea apparently started in Europe a few years ago. A Canadian importer got wind of it and bought a few thousand Craft BeerAdvent™ Calendars for distribution mostly in Western Canada and people went nuts for it—even though most of the beers were fairly unremarkable and common German and Austrian offerings. Realizing they had a hit on their hands, that same importer commissioned 24 North American breweries to make beers specifically for this year's calendar. Not surprisingly, it too sold out immediately last fall.

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Inspired by the mania for this item, Victoria, BC's Phillips Brewing created its own Snowcase Calendar this year, which was shrewdly released shortly after the Craft BeerAdvent Calendars sold out. They also retailed for half the price. And, they too, sold out immediately. Admittedly, it's not as intriguing to get 24 beers from one brewery, but this is the one I decided to purchase and, five days in, there have been a couple of interesting inclusions. The fact that day 1 was a majorly hopped-up double IPA called Amnesiac was definitely a good omen and I'm expecting there'll be some pleasant surprises along the way.

Since, so far, demand has outstripped supply—and that will likely be the case when these arrive in the U.S. market next year—my own recommendation is that you take matters into your own hands and make one. Well, first find at least one similar-minded craft beer drinker, set a budget and buy 24 beers for each other's calendar, so you still get that element of surprise. All you need is a 24-slot beer or booze box, which you can pick for free up at any decent bottle shop or liquor store and a little creativity in sealing it up (yet making each day accessible under a flap, obviously) and numbering and decorating it with whatever blasphemy you want to add. You can even make themes for your selections, like only beers with "black" in the name, Belgian beers, beers featured in The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, or whatever you want to do. Then, come December 1, when the madness of the holiday season unfolds over the next 24 days, you'll have at least one thing to look forward to every day.

Adem Tepedelen's new craft beer book, Decibel Presents the Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing's Outer Limits, is now available in the Decibel online store.

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