Craft brews are a festive way to toast the season


Twenty-five years ago, “craft beer” exploded onto the scene and literally redefined how people think about American brewers and their offerings. Today’s beer lovers are trading up to “better” beers for their own consumption and as gifts. A 12-pack of a world-class American craft beer is about the price of an undistinguished bottle of Champagne or wine. Beer has become the beverage of celebration. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Samuel Adams, 60 percent of men would rather toast with beer than Champagne.

Whether a beer connoisseur or not, there are a number of ways to incorporate beer into this year’s seasonal celebrations. Here are four festive ways to celebrate with beer:

* Holiday Cheers with Beers. This is probably the best time in history to be a beer lover. Craft brewers are experimenting with styles that challenge people’s perception of what beer can be. For example, Samuel Adams is offering Infinium, a Champagne-like brew that is the result of a collaboration with the Weihenstephan Brewery in Bavaria, Germany. Infinium is a completely new style of beer; it is brewed with Champagne yeast, and offers beer lovers a unique drinking experience. Infinium retails for around $20, making it a great option for holiday gifting and toasting.

* Celebrate the season. A growing trend in the craft beer movement is the burgeoning availability of seasonal options. Whether at a fireside winter gathering, or getting ready to welcome spring, beer lovers are now seeking brews designed to suit the season.

* Cheese pairing 101. Clever hosts can change it up a bit by putting a new spin on the classic wine and cheese party and hosting a craft beer and cheese party. Each guest brings a cheese to pair with a favorite beer (e.g. aged cheddar paired with an American lager, blue cheese paired with spicy, wintery brews, or aged goat cheese paired with fruit beers). Since beer is so versatile, guests won’t feel pressure to come up with precise matches, and the flavor combinations will pleasantly surprise everyone.

* Build your own mix-pack. It’s hard work, but the best way to learn about craft beer is through sampling. One popular idea is to ask each guest to bring a six- or 12-pack of his or her favorite brew. At the beginning of the party, set all of the beer out on a table and let the guests take turns picking different beers to sample, allowing everyone to try something new. For those who want a “guided tour” of craft beer, many brewers offer pre-mixed twelve-packs, like the Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety 12-Pack that features six different holiday favorites.

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