Friday, November 6, 2009


This is the third installment of our (along with my writing partner Hallie Beaune) stint as guest bloggers at's author blog. We've had fun and gotten a lot of great feedback. Thanks to those of you who read and please read below for our final Penguin blog...

A Fresh Take On Tradition
Getting together with friends and family over the holidays can be full of conflicting feelings; You love your relatives, you want them to go home immediately. You appreciate the wisdom of your parents, you want them to stop telling you where you went wrong. You're happy to blow off steam at the annual office Christmas party, you don't want to see Suzy from accounting get drunk and remove her top. Holiday gatherings often fill one with the desire to find another strong drink or the door, or both. And if you are giving into ritual, you may want to host your own gathering, but feel a bit uninspired while watching the cranberry sauce slowly slide out of the can into the pot.

Enter beer: a breath of fresh air in the cold weather. An offering that will make your holiday party stand out among all others. Pairing beer with classic holiday dishes keeps the boredom out and enhances the food as well as any wine or spirit could. In fact, slipping some craft beer in next to traditional dishes is a great way to educate your guests' palates. And this time of year is full of fall/winter ales that hold all of the flavors of the season: Pumpkin, nutmeg, fig, pine trees, etc. Here are a few pairing suggestions we offer as a way around the ordinary holiday happenings.

  • Turkey and Stuffing that Won't Make You Yawn: This dish transforms when paired with Craftsman Triple White Sage. This is a mean recommendation because you can only get this beer on tap around Los Angeles, as it is a local brewery that doesn't bottle yet. This is a Belgian Tripel brewed with handpicked sage, perfect for picking up the spices on stuffing and the earthy flavor of roasted turkey. 9% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
  • Don't Throw out that Fruit Cake: Paired with a Scaldis Noel, a seasonal Belgian Ale with complex flavors of spice, dried fruit and caramel, and a big 12% ABV, makes you a lot happier that your Aunt Betty sent you yet another tin.
  • Pumpkin Pie with a Kick: Pair this with Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale, a beer made with pumpkin that offers notes of allspice and brown sugar. At 7% ABV, this beer adds a nice kick and magnifies the rich flavors of this old ubiquitous favorite.
  • Latkes Like You've Never Seen Them: Potato pancakes are delicious with applesauce, we suggest ditching the sauce and buying a bottle of Unibrioue Ephemere, a beer from Chambly Quebec that is brewed with apples and coriander. Not too sweet like cider, but full of apple flavor and a crisp, clean mouthfeel that lifts those Latkes up to a new level.
  • Those Sugar Cookies In Various Shapes: You can't resist making these for your holiday party, but if you Try this with Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice. This Winter Warmer tastes like creme brulee and caramel and, well, sugar cookies. Even when these babies go stale, you will still be happy eating one chased by this beer.
Try some of these suggestions and you won't be sorry. Pair with pride, and you'll turn holiday tradition on its head with the addition of wonderful and seasonal craft and artisanal beers. But, of course, along with the introduction of new aspects of celebration comes responsibility. Make sure that you tell Uncle Frank that drinking one Scaldis Noel is like drinking three (or four) Keystone Lights. Lord knows we don't want the same thing that happened last year happening again this year, that's for sure!

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