It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When the holidays arrive, beginning with Thanksgiving and its obscene American sister-tradition — Black Friday — right up through New Year’s Day, most people look forward to twinkling Christmas lights, festive holiday songs, workplace potlucks and Secret Santas, eggnog and elves.

While I’ll admit I am not immune to these seasonal pleasures, it is another arrival that I look the most forward to — the sudden and magical appearance of stacks of red and white boxes in the refrigerated section of my favorite stores. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale. While some people are busy decking the halls with boughs of holly, I like to don me now my gay apparel and deck the fridge with beers of jolly. For just the sight of the bottles in my icebox, with their cheery red caps and snowy winter scene on the label, bring me tidings of comfort and joy.

A couple months back, while brewing beer with my friend and godfather to my children Ernie (it is my opinion as a matter of course that a prerequisite for every godfather should be a more-than-passing interest in beer… but that’s a subject for another time) at our friend and local brewmaster extraordinaire Greg’s house. We were making a Sierra Nevada clone, and discussing our favorite beers. I mentioned my passion for Celebration Ale, and Greg pulled a book from the shelf. “American Clone Beers” or something similar. He flipped through and stopped at a particular page. “Yep, there’s a clone for that.” Suddenly I imagined myself in a large elf suit, stirring a vat of wort destined for my own handcrafted Celebration clone. The evolution of true love is deep and mysterious.

The label describes the beer as “fresh hop ale,” a “pioneering IPA” that utilizes the “first full cone hops of the season.” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it sure sounds sexy. When I was a youth, I was a lager guy and didn’t much care for highly hopped beer, which tasted bitter to me. But as I’ve reflected in the past on this very blog, the universe of bitter foods has grown on me — represented by none more so than pale ales. And no ale so revered as Celebration.

So cherished is this beer, in fact, that I find myself talking to it. “Oh Celebration Ale, I heart you!” The other dark and rainy afternoon, wife in the Northwest and kids at a friends’ house, I returned home with a Christmas tree after running errands, and felt sad and lonely. That is, until I opened the fridge and saw them there. Not much in the mood for cooking that evening, I made myself a bag of Trader Joe’s orange chicken — supplemented with some blackened, blistered chiles de arbol and a side of steamed broccoli with oyster sauce. Besides being there for me in my hour of need, the ultra-hoppy Celebration Ales proved a perfect accompaniment to the sweet, spiciness of the Americanized Hunan favorite. Who would’ve guessed a hearty seasonal ale could also be so versatile?

Do you like beer? If you’re here, I’m guessing you do. So go find some Celebration Ale, and have yourself a merry little Christmas… or whatever you may be celebrating this season. On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 00:59:56

    I’m gonna have to look for that. Truthfully, when I see those Christmas-y scenes on beer bottles, I think Christmas spices (gag, bah, humbug) and look the other way. I didn’t realize that in this case it just meant new hops. Thanks!


  2. Mom
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 04:08:31

    I have already alerted Bruce to the urgency of Celebration Ale. We just came off of a 3 month period of abstaining from wheat. What did I miss? My homemade pizza? Yes. Good bread? Yes, but mostly, beer.


  3. Jessamine in PDX
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 04:26:03

    I’d rather drink beer than anything else. In fact, the best gift I’ve ever received was a kegerator last Christmas from my husband. Better than diamonds! I also look forward to seasonal beers — both summer and winter — and Celebration is one of my favorites!


  4. Leo
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 05:25:57

    I’m occasionally partial to some TJ orange chicken myself when cooking for one.. I’m definitely going to try making it into a celebration next time.


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