Originally published in “Christmas in Berthoud” for the Berthoud Surveyor.
Colorado is the land of beer festivals. On any given summer weekend, during a non-pandemic year, there are at least three beer events occurring somewhere in the state. Coloradans have become accustomed to this and that is why, this tradition, started by my husband years ago, is perfect for a pandemic Christmas. If you can’t attend a beer festival create one at home.
It started with a boy who likes beer and who likes being in charge of games and stuff. Ryan, my husband, decided several Christmases ago that he was going to conduct a beer tasting with his family each holiday.
He likes rules and competition and was always the kid who made up games to play with the other kids on his block in Littleton, Colorado. So it wasn’t surprising when he developed the Christmas beer tasting.
It always starts with a theme like British beers, sour beers or dark beers, etc. Ryan bought beer tasting glasses at the Standard Restaurant Supply on North Federal to go with the tasting glasses we already had. If you haven’t been to a restaurant supply store, it’s a real treat. You’ll find things you never realized that you needed, but you absolutely do, like a specific type of glass for every type of beer.
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Once we owned beer tasting glasses, Ryan chose a theme and was off to the liquor store to procure the beer. He usually picks around six beers to taste. We recommend going to a liquor store that has a large selection of interesting craft beers, like Applejack Liquors in Thornton and Wheatridge. They can even help you decide on which bottles to purchase. Or visit a couple local breweries and pick up theme-appropriate crowlers.
Picking a theme is fun because you will discover that there are all kinds available. For the first family beer tasting event, you might choose a Christmas beer theme, because there are quite a few, like gingerbread porters and Isolation Ale from O’Dell.
I create tasting sheets and print them out on the computer. It’s all very official. Ryan does not reveal the beer until everyone has tasted it and written down his or her notes. The first tasters are delivered, sipped, and then rated before the reveal. Then the second tasters are delivered and so on.
The non-beer drinkers and those under 21 are not forgotten. Ryan does a flight of kombucha for his non-beer drinking mother and for the nieces, ages 8 and 15, there are usually root beer or fancy soda tasters.
Everyone gets to play. Of course, it’s not a game because everyone wins, but it’s enjoyable to chat about the taste of each beer and savor the time spent with family.
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This is a tradition that many Colorado families will want to add to their holiday agenda this year. After all, with the lack of beer festivals on the calendar, it’s the perfect time to recall those happy days while taking part in the start of a delightful tradition.
Other ideas include chocolate. Get a few good beers and purchase nice chocolates at a place like the Berthoud Candy Company and pair them up. In fact, a lot goes with chocolate including wine or bourbon. You could do a cheesy pairing. The staff at Cheese Importers in Longmont have helped us put together several cheese pairings including cheese and beer and cheese with high-end tequila.