Friday, December 27, 2013

Craft Beer Advent Calendar

As a kid, I looked forward to the chocolate advent calendar. You know the one – Mom bought it for 99¢ and the chocolate tasted like cardboard dipped in chocolate syrup. It was glorious.


Now that I’m a bigger kid and can’t stomach fake chocolate (blech), I needed something else to entertain me through the holidays other than making fun of the Xmas sweaters at Northern Reflections. Well low and behold, last year Craft Beer Importer  released a craft beer advent calendar. Thank you Santa!



Each day in December 2012, we opened the box with great anticipation. And each night, after drinking the European beer, we were filled with regret. Regret that we paid $130 for introductory craft beers from Europe that didn’t travel well and were bottled in the summer. Low ABV beers that travel from Europe and then proceed to sit in an unrefrigerated  warehouse for months are a recipe for disaster.

We swore we wouldn’t buy it again in 2013.

Ok. We caved. We bought it again in 2013. Now don’t shake your head at me, it was North American beers this time and we’d heard that they wised up and used higher ABV beers this time. We kept last year’s box and decided to make our own advent calendar with beers that we’d purchased throughout the year. After all, there are two of us and one shared little bottle isn’t very much holiday cheer.

So let’s do a comparison of the purchased calendar vs. our home made calendar. Rock and roll.

 
 
Craft Beer Importer Calendar
Lynn & Kelly’s Super Awesome Calendar
 
Beer
My Rating
Beer
My Rating
Dec 1
Nickel Brook – Maple Porter
3
North Coast – Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
5
Dec 2
Back Forty – Kudzu Porter
3
Evil Twin – Ashtray Heart Imperial Stout
4
Dec 3
Cucapa – Obsura Porter
3.5
Brooklyn – Black Chocolate Stout
4
Dec 4
Yukon – 39 ½ Foot Pole Fruit Beer
2.5
Sierra Nevada – Narwhal (2012) Imperial Stout
4
Dec 5
Newport Storm – Hurricane Amber Ale
2.5
Crooked Stave - L’Brett D’Or
4
Dec 6
Grizzly Paw – Moose Knuckle Winter Stout
3
Brouwerji De Ranke – Noir de Dottignies Belgian Strong Dark Ale
4
Dec 7
Stillwater – Existent Saison
3
Brasserie de la Senne – Taras Boulba Belgian Pale Ale
3.5
Dec 8
Lake of Bays – Spark House Red Ale
3
Brouwerij Abdij – Westmalle Tripel
4
Dec 9
Tap It – IPA
3.5
Brasserie d’Orval – Orval Belgian Pale Ale
4
Dec 10
Back Forty – Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale
2.5
Dogfish Head – 120 Minute IPA (2013)
4
Dec 11
Newport  Storm – India Point Ale American IPA
3.0
Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij – Trappist Westvleteren 8 (2012) Belgian Dubbel
5
Dec 12
Cameron’s – Auburn Amber Ale
3
Left Hand – Fade to Black Vol 4 Black IPA
4
Dec 13
Peak – Espresso Amber Ale
4
Wasatch – Polygamy Porter
3
Dec 14
Nickel Brook – Bolshevik Bastard Russian Imperial Stout
4
Stone – Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers
4
Dec 15
Scheldebrouwerij – Hollow Point Quad
3.5
St-Ambroise – Russian Imperial Stout
3.5
Dec 16
Lake of Bays – Crosswind Pale Ale
3
Brasserie de la Senne – Zinnebir Belgian Pale Ale
3.5
Dec 17
Ruckus – Hedonism Irish Red Ale
3.5
Stillwater – A Saison Darkly
4
Dec 18
Cameron’s – Cream Ale
1.5
Abbaye Notre-Dame – Trappistes Rochefort 6 Belgian Strong Dark Ale
4
Dec 19
Newport Storm – Rhode Island Blueberry Fruit Beer
3.5
Howe Sound – Woolly Bugger (2012) Barley Wine
4
Dec 20
Lighthouse – Winter Ale
3.5
Brasserie du Bocq – Blanche de Namur Witbier
3
Dec 21
Peak – Hop Noir Black IPA
3
Lost Abbey – Red Poppy Ale (2013) Flanders Red
5
Dec 22
Tap It – American Standard Pale Ale
2.5
Stone – Oaked Arrogant Bastard Strong Ale
4
Dec 23
Evil Twin – Low Life Pilsner
3.5
Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij – Trappist Westvleteren 12 (2012)
5
Dec 24
Brasserie Dunham – Black IPA
4
Left Hand – Milk Stout Nitro
4.5
 
Total
75
Total
97
 
Average
3.1
Average
4.0

 

You don’t need to be a whiz at math to see who won this battle but I still did the math for you.  Lynn & Kelly’s Super Awesome Advent Calendar crushed the North American box. We are the champions my friends….and we’ll keep on drinking ‘til the end….
 
Did you notice that six breweries had more than one beer in the box? (Newport Storm had three). That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I was surprised that they didn’t have 24 unique breweries represented.
 
I don't think the importer is doing the breweries any favours by selling their beers in this format. I know that a lot of these beers would have been better fresh and thus, I'm certainly not making an opinion about any of these beers or the breweries. Try them again, fresh, before deciding.

The moral of this story, even if you tell me that the 2014 box is full of puppies, I will not be buying it. Well, maybe if it really is full of puppies, but not if it’s more entry-level, ho-hum beers that were bottled in the summer and aren’t destined for greatness after sitting in a warehouse for 6 months. Screw that. Now we have two boxes we can use to make our own calendars.

For 2014, Kelly and I are going to shop separately (likely in the US) in November and make each other a fantastic box of beers. Next year’s winner will be a tough one to call since we both have fantastic taste in beer.*

 
*I’ll win