It’s that time of year again. Days are getting shorter and chillier, nights are getting darker, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is settling into our bones like Irish damp. Fortunately our ancestors were prepared for this time of year and made festivals of light, love and sharing – Christmas and advent among them. Which means it’s also time for something I get excited for every year – my annual beer advent calendar!
A couple of weeks ago my friend Jasmine and I made our now-annual pilgrimage to one of the better alcohol shops in Toronto to get the beer for this year’s calendar. Luck was on our side as one of the people working the craft beer section was this guy who was super passionate about beer and eager to help us choose what to include this year. He and Jasmine geeked out over sour beers (ick) and he and I talked lovingly about which Belgian style beers I should go with. He totally talked me into some of the more large format, higher alcohol beers that I my regular frugal ways might have otherwise stopped me from buying. And I’m not at all sorry about it.
As in previous years I anchored some specific beers on the more special days (Christmas Eve, December 21st, weekend days) and then filled in the gaps, making sure not to have two similar beers on back to back days so as to keep comparison low and enjoy everything as much as possible.
I tried not to have multiple beers from the same brewery and, with the exception of Great Lakes Brewery and Muskoka Brewing, I succeeded. I also tried to have mostly Ontario brews since we make so much great beer in my neck of the woods. Of the 24 beers (+1 bonus brew) in this year’s calendar, 19 are from Ontario, 2 from elsewhere in Canada, 3 from Europe and 1 from the US.
The Big Ones
- Left Field – Bricks and Mortar coffee porter
- Brouwerij Het Anker – Cuvée Van De Keizer Rood**
- Beau’s Brewery – The Bottle Imp Russian imperial coffee stout
- Brasseurs RJ – Apocalypse imperial stout**
- Great Lakes Brewery – Saison du Pump farmhouse ale
- Great Lakes Brewery – Winter Ale winter warmer
- Sawdust City – Lone Pine IPA
- Elora Brewing Company – Wandering Monk Belgian IPA**
- Amsterdam – Boneshaker IPA
- Radical Road Brewing – Yuzu ale
- Cameron’s Brewing – Cosmic cream ale
- Royal City Brewing – Smoked Honey
- Granville Island Brewing – Lions Winter Ale
- Muskoka Brewery – Harvest Ale
The Special Guests
- Harviestoun Brewery – Ola Dubh barrel-aged beer**
- Wychwood Brewery – Bah Humbug winter warmer
- Founder’s Brewing – Breakfast stout
The Stouts and Porters
- Muskoka Brewery – Schinnicked Stout
- Big Rig Brewing – Tales From the Pumpkin Patch pumpkin porter**
- Collective Arts – Stranger Than Fiction porter
- Forked River Brewing – Full City porter**
The Black and Dark Lagers
- Junction Craft Brewing – Junction Road black lager**
- Hop City – 8th Sin black lager
- Napanee Brewing Company – Blacklist black German lager
- Side Launch Brewing – Dark lager
Beer Notes and Stray Thoughts
- The starred beers are ones I haven’t had before.
- I rewarded myself an extra beer on Christmas day, as you do. Making an advent calendar is thirsty work, y’all.
- I’ll be posting what I get each day on Instagram, and invite you to follow the fun over there.
How are you getting into the holiday spirit?