I am a big fan of craft beer. In fact, over this past Thanksgiving weekend, I went to Westy's Beer Distributor in Mechanicsburg, PA and marveled at the many selections with the same gleam of awe as if I was meandering through a fine art museum. As I stood there and pondered the numerous appealing choices facing me, I was struck by the thought that, although immensely tempted, perhaps I didn't want to blow all my holiday cash on these specialty brews.
In past years I have splurged for a single case of beer for Christmas and have sometimes paid over $50; but rarely more.
For the holidays ~ in my personal opinion ~ you don't want anything too alcoholic, as well as anything too dark or too heavy. I prefer something fruity, but not too much so; something that's sweet, but doesn't taste like grape soda. I lean towards a holiday beer that is not so heavy that it makes me feel bloated after a heavy grazing or a holiday meal, and I absolutely prefer one that doesn't make me too loopy to talk to long lost relatives.
So with my preferential parameters set, here are my picks for this holiday season ~ five American beers that should cost you less than thirty-five bucks a case. And of course, rest assured that I have personally taste-tested each one for quality control!
Session American Lager or Black Lager
Full Sail Independent Brewing Company - OREGON
Smooth and easy to drink.
Served in cute little retro bottles, this non-assuming beer has won numerous awards, including Top Beer of 2013 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
And with playful little pictures of a rock, paper, or scissors under each cap, drinking entertainment abounds.
A bargain at about $30 a case.
Flying Dog Underdog Amber Ale Cans
Okay, I never thought I would say this but... "I am becoming increasingly enamored of craft beer in cans." There. I said it.
Portable, easy to transport, they fit in the cooler easier alongside the side dishes and leftovers, and best yet, they don't break on the long trip to Grandma's house.
This beer is not too fizzy, yet has ample malty flavor and body. It has sturdy six-pack holders and interesting graphics by renowned illustrator, Ralph Steadman, who collaborated with Hunter S. Thompson.
Troeg's La Grave
Okay, so this one is probably cheating. The actual case is about $60, but 4-packs are available for about $15 each. Looks like a champagne bottle with the fancy cork and the Belgium ale has a higher carbonation and alcohol content which makes it feel more like a special holiday treat. A good beer to save for a special occasion.
Al's Small Growler.
Al's of Hampden has smaller growlers of only 32 oz. each, which equals two pints. It's a perfect way to taste test a smaller batch of an unusual beer for less than $20 a growler.
And If You Can Find Them...
One of my absolute favorites, and again, it's hard to find.
Evidently Uinta is becoming popular ~ fast!
And the resulting jump in sales probably means that less is available as the brewery makes strides to meet production.
I love the taste, graphics, and story of this brewery, which also offers organic selections. If Hoodoo is not available, pick up a mix-pack case as all the flavors are excellent and holiday mix packs include a stout too.
Again, it's a wonderful choice, if you can get it (I can't believe I am revealing this, as it will probably further cut down the inventory!).