For me, the best part of Christmas is Christmas Day evening, when my family has given up forcing me to play board games, I’ve demolished a plate of leftover turkey rolls, and my Dad’s fallen asleep with his Christmas hat falling over his eyes.
That’s when I sit down on the rug by the fire to reflect on a day well spent, with a glass of something beautiful. This year I already know what that glass is going to contain – a Schneider Weiss Tap 6 from Germany. It’s an absolutely stunning beer, loaded with ripe plum and raisin flavours and hardly any bitterness at all, just a little maltiness that reminds you it’s a beer.
The Tap 6 is what’s known as a doppelweizenbock, which basically means it’s a strong, malty lager made with a little wheat. It’s made for moments by the fire, served in a brandy glass so you can savour all the heady, deep aromas and flavours.
If a quiet moment with a warm fire and cold beer isn’t to your taste, you’re mad. But we shouldn’t forget that they also call this time of year the party season! Beer is the most popular drink in the world, so the chances are your guests are going to be gagging for some. There are a million ways to jazz up your beers to wow your guests. For a start you could try our amazing Pilsner and elderberry kir cocktail, perfect with antipasti or as a welcome when guests come through the door. You could even offer them a glass of Deus, a Belgian tripel (sweet and malty, like Duvel) made with Champagne yeast to create an incredible, dry finish just like the best French sparkling wines. We’re big fans of mulling fruit beers too, just like you might do with a cider – give it a try! Or whip up this amazing Beer gin fizz, our favourite ever beer cocktail.
On the big day though, it’s all about measured, slow drinking, otherwise you’ll pass out mid-Pictionary at 4pm. So this year I’ll be inflicting my beer and food matching on the family. Wine will be banned at the table! I’ll be making our Bucks fizz in the morning with Deus and fresh orange juice; at lunch we’ll be supping on Saison Dupont, a gorgeous and aromatic saison ale from Belgium that’s full of peppery and herby flavours – incredible with turkey and its lightness cuts right through the potatoes, bread sauce and roast veg. And here’s one for the brave – a cherry beer like Liefmans’ with a leftover turkey sandwich. It works just like the cranberry sauce, bringing the meat to life and making it as moreish as hell.
The match I’m really looking forward to though is Innis & Gunn’s rum-aged Scotch Ale. The joy of aging beer in spirit barrels was discovered by this brewery by accident, while trying to infuse whisky with beer flavours. What a wonderful accident – there is no doubting how beautifully the rum and oak flavours come through, giving it a balanced sweetness that is an absolute joy with… mince pies. Adding a bit of booze to your mincemeat is a must, and doing it again with a sweet rum-aged beer is a revelation. The sweetness just keeps coming in waves and waves. Honestly, there is no Christmas course I look forward to more now than pudding!
What are you most looking forward to eating, and what beer are you going to have with it?