This week in the column, I talked about the growing trend for breweries to produce advent calendars. It’s a fun idea and one that I can get behind. With the short days and cold weather, you want to treat yourself nicely and a single high quality beer a day is not a bad way to do that. It may only give you ten or fifteen minutes enjoyment, but it’s a nicely ritualized thing. It’s an Agent Cooper approved strategy for coping with a seasonal lack of esprit de corps.
You’ll notice that there are no craft beer advent calendars in Ontario. The LCBO isn’t allowed to stock packages over six bottles because of an agreement with the Beer Store. It’s an agreement that they’re threatening to rescind. The Beer Store isn’t a good option for stocking something like an advent calendar because they charge the same for listing whether you’re offering a product year round or as a seasonal option. Even when Andrew Oland from Moosehead says that The Beer Store is doing a great job, you’ll notice that his Hop City and Sam Adams Seasonal products only show up in the LCBO. If The Beer Store is so great, why aren’t they carried exclusively by The Beer Store, huh?
Incidentally, you’d think this would be a great opportunity for the Beer Store to score a PR point and maybe make way for something like that “because Christmas” what with them having been visited by the ghost of Christmas future in the form of Ed Clark. They seem to have decided to cover their ears and reap the whirlwind of public opinion.
Let’s not be scrooges. For the moment, let’s be Fezziwigs.
If you’re in Ontario, you might want to put together an advent calendar of your own. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to do that with the beer that’s available at the LCBO. I notice that the Craft Beer Advent Calendar out on the West Coast is somewhere between $129 and $145. In Newfoundland, more like $188. If you like rare stuff, that’s probably a good deal. The Phillips and Central City/Parallel 49 packs tended to come in somewhere between $65 and $85 depending on the store stocking them. That seems a little more in line with what I’m willing to spend.
The goal I therefore put together was to create advent calendars that you can use. I wanted them to be affordable and fairly specific. The ones that I have put together will run you approximately $75-$80 bucks and they’re suitable for different beer drinkers. I didn’t put together a Canadian Craft Beer version because that’s really easy. You can do it entirely with canned beer and it requires no imagination. I’ve come up with an English Version and a Belgian Version instead.
The “Full English” is actually 25 beers. You can drink the extra Hobgoblin while you put the calendar together for whomever the recipient might be.
|The Full English|
|Marston’s Classic Ales||Brakspear Bitter||$18.95|
|English Pale Ale|
|Wychwood Beers of Character||Hobgoblin||$12.95|
|Young’s Double Chocolate Stout||$2.95|
|Fuller’s London Pride||$2.95|
|Fuller’s London Pride||$2.95|
|Historic Ales from Scotland||Heather||$9.95|
|Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome||$3.90|
|St. Peter’s Winter Ale||$4.00|
|Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout||$4.25|
The Belgian Pack actually came in under budget because the leverage the LCBO has over the Belgians is insane. It’s crazy. I included a Dupont Saison for Christmas day which brings it in three dollars over budget. Whoever you give it to will be just that much happier. Because of the darkness of the short days and the prevalence of St. Bernardus products, I’ve taken to calling it “Bleak End at Bernie’s.”
|St. Bernardus Pack||St. Bernardus Wit||$18.95|
|St. Bernardus Pater 6|
|St. Bernardus Tripel|
|St. Bernardus Abt 12|
|St. Bernardus Prior 12|
|Belgian Beer Pack||Piraat||$18.95|
|Augustjin Grand Cru|
|Mort Subite Framboise||$3.95|
|Unibroue 6||Blanche de Chambly||$12.95|
|Don De Dieu|
|La Fin du Monde|
I’m not going to claim that either of these packages is going to be absolutely unique. I will say that at least wrapping them is pretty simple: Take two wine boxes from the LCBO, arrange beers at random in them and slap a bow on that sucker. Wrapping paper optional, but available at dollar stores for cheap.