For the devoted, beer is like the postman: rain or shine, holidays and birthdays, it always delivers. For us, craft beer, nay, good beer, has just become the habit of our lives. We have created and implemented systems that allow our addiction, I mean, hobby, to be at our disposal at any time, ready to fill that bomber sized hole when that dry itch whispers, "beer me."
At home, we have our seasonal stouts and winter warmers and an immediate family that wouldn't balk at seeing us put down these heavy beers with our honeyed ham, but the Winter holidays come with unique social baggage that sometimes doesn't work out for the beer lover. Here are some holiday challenges and anecdotes of my own personal holidays past, uh, triumphs.
1. "Hi honey, I know you love craft beer so I got you some Boston Lager..."
There is a reason people think Boston Brewing Co., Blue Moon, and Leinenkugel are "craft beers:" they have lots of money to advertise. My mom has given up trying to anticipate my beer needs and just has a fridge of High Life decorated as reindeer with pipe cleaner antlers, red pompom noses, and googly eyes. David Lynch-ness aside, I have learned that a simple conversation can fix the rein-beer situation. I call my mom up and ask her if she wants me to give her some beer suggestions, or if she wants me to use my expertise to bring some great craft beer to pair with the meal. This simple act will make you seem polite, engaged and involved with the holiday meal. Boom. Good beer and +3 socks. Thanks Mom.
2. "I can't believe you brought beer. You know (Aunt or Uncle) Blah-Blah are on the wagon..."
Sorry you missed the memo. My solution is that when I go to a party or family get together, I always leave the beer in the car, unless I followed my advice from number one where I called ahead. Go in, scope it out, ask a couple of polite, yet subtle questions and figure out if your awesome stash in the car is able to be cheer and joy the whole night.
3. My Grandma is a Teetotaler.
As a kid, my grandma's fridge was my art gallery. I apply this to my beer drinking as well. My grandma's family abstains from alcohol, but I obviously don't. Solution? I bring a bottle or two of home brew. Alcohol is bad, but I made it and Gam Gam is just so proud she can't hate it that much, right?
4. Be A Craft Brew Ambassador
Okay, so you've made the polite phone call, or left the brew in the car, and the situation is clear, but all you see are a bunch of, uh, well seasoned party goers and Michelob Ultra. It's time to be the dude. Bringing beer that is delish AND easily accessible is key. People will notice that you are not drinking the same beer as everyone else and conversation will ensue. Share the brew, have an impromptu tasting, hand them a Beer Barons business card, be the beer ambassador. Inform the uninformed and maybe next year, you will be greeted with a Sixpoint Global Warming instead of a Blue Moon.
The holidays don't have to be so bad. Just try to be mindful of how beer fits into other people's lives and celebrations so that you can share your passions merrily and not feel like an awkward shit when Uncle John goes into detox seizures at the sight of your slightly warmed Cherry Port Chocolate Stout.