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All I Want for Christmas is BREW!

…Mariah Carey’s hit holiday song aside, truly I think we can all agree that we’ll be drinking straight through the holiday season to round out this infamous year of 2020. So, what might be some brews and gifts that you want to add to your own wish-list or are you in the market for gift ideas to give others this December? Look no further, your beer-loving holiday guide is here! Let’s start with some beer ideas to gift yourself or others…

Tis the season for stouts and porters with two recommendations that are right on the money. With both companies originating in Pennsylvania, Yuengling and Hershey’s have collaborated to concoct a tasty little limited-edition brew known as Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter. The beer is created using a base of Yuengling’s Dark Brewed Porter (which recipe happens to be 200-years-old!), combined with Hershey’s chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs. The finished product unmistakably presents with a true creamy Hershey’s milk chocolate flavor within each sip with roasted malty notes of the beer itself. The base elements of the porter are not drowned out in any capacity by the chocolate, giving this brew a very balanced finish overall, without being overly sweet. With an ABV of 4.7% you can easily throw back a few bottles and not feel overwhelmingly full as the brew is not as heavy as many porters can tend to be. The beer has been brewed for a few years, but this year Yuengling made a point to distribute as far and wide as it could over a 22-state footprint both in bottles and on draft. I found mine at Wegmans and after trying, can easily see why the masses want to get their paws on this!

Our next beer is a delectable stout – Founders Brewing Company’s (Grand Rapids, MI) KBS Maple Mackinac Fudge is an Imperial Stout created with Mackinac fudge coffee, maple syrup, and chocolate aged in oak bourbon barrels. Yes, it’s a mouthful to describe and it’s also a mouthful on your palate! But before I get ahead of myself, you might be asking, what the heck is Mackinac fudge?? Well, I didn’t know either… Located in the northwest corner of Lake Huron Mackinac Island, Michigan boasts an idyllic little vacation spot without cars or chain hotels, where horse-drawn carriages are common-place and the fudge is famous. In the downtown area of the island you will find 14 different fudge shops that make a collective 10,000 plus pounds of fudge PER DAY during peak travel months. (& hint, some of the shops do have an online storefront where you can order and have fudge shipped to you! Perhaps another gift idea?) Packing a punch at 11% ABV, this boozy, dark, rich, and velvety stout dances on your tastebuds, allowing you to distinguish between every single element in the description of this beer. It is simply sublime. This is also widely distributed in 4-packs of bottles and can also be found at Wegmans.

What better gift to give alongside beer than glassware to go with it? Beer glasses are always a popular and simple choice for a gift along with easily being one of the most accessible gifts to purchase as you can literally get beer glassware EVERYWHERE – grocery stores, big box stores, department stores, specialty shops, etc. There are so many different types of glassware to choose from, and if you really want to impress the receiver of your gift, it helps to do your research. A couple of years back, I wrote an article specifically about the different types of glasses; you can find all of Brew Time’s past articles online at the Table Hopping website, www.tablehopping.com. (Search and choose “Brew Time” from the drop-down list and scroll through the articles until you get to September 2018’s article.) It’s here where you’ll find glassware and information on what specific type of beer is housed best in each specific type of glass. If you’re aware of the gift-receiver’s favorite beer preference, it’ll be easy to select the specific glassware to gift them. One of the best places to purchase glassware is online, because the options are truly limitless. If you go to Amazon.com and search for “beer glassware,” over 2,000 results are available at your fingertips. This makes for a great place to start and refine what you’re looking for. In addition, you can even order personalized glasses if you’re into giving something more customized.

Perhaps you’re looking for something more unique to gift (or get) this holiday season, especially for the person who seems to have ALL the beer. There are plenty of beer themed gifts to surprise someone with. Online, a great site to peruse different items and also help support small businesses, artisans and independent entrepreneurs is on Etsy. com. Here you can find everything from handmade beer-themed cloth facemasks, to beer soap and beer candles, to customizable growlers. This site is your oyster if you’re looking for a pearl!

In addition, there are plenty of local businesses in the Syracuse area (and beyond) where you can find brew-themed gifts not only for the holiday season but during the rest of the year too! Witty Wicks at Township 5 in Camillus has a great selection of decorative items, signs, accessories, and even some barware to choose from. Wildflowers Armory located in the heart of downtown Syracuse has a rotating collection of goods from local artists and artisans with unique and ever-changing finds. It’s here where you can find glassware, signage, art, décor and beer-bottle openers – all of which are handmade by people who live and work in our city. Both locations also give you an opportunity to shop for persons on your list who may not be strictly beer-lovers as well, since they offer so many goodies inside their walls!

A new CNY business – Us & Hemp – is beginning to make its debut in the beer-accessories market as well with the product known as Recoil Coolers. Based out of Oneida, NY, the company is currently marketing an auto-adjustable hand-held cooler to fit ALL of your cold beverages including 16 oz. tallboys and 12 oz. regular cans, skinny cans, and bottles. Even better, all the components of the cooler are sourced in the US, they’re manufactured and assembled in the Upstate NY region, and hemp (also all US grown) is used in the material of the cooler itself, which reduces overall plastic use by 25%. We’re all looking for a way these days to get the most bang-for-our-buck and live more sustainably, and this product does both. Check them out at usandhemp.com and recoilcoolers.com.

Of course, I also can forget to mention our local breweries, brew pubs and specialty brew shops. The large assortment of different establishments in our small city and surrounding areas also offer plenty of gift ideas from crowlers of brews on tap and bottled/canned beers, to t-shirts, sweatshirts and other accessories. Don’t forget that gift cards make a great stocking stuffer too!

…I just want BREW for my own, More than you could ever know, Make my wish come true, All I want for Christmas is BREW!

Make it a safe holiday season y’all and cheers to getting ALL the beer under the tree this Christmas!

Kristin Merritt
Just a brief introduction that I’ve joined the Table Hopping crew as your new craft-brew-loving gal who will be bringing you your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope that I can give a few recommendations for your grocery lists, event suggestions and local hotspots for an afternoon out with friends or planning a date, and if not for nothing, perhaps enlighten you with some random knowledge that you can amaze your teammates with at trivia night – or at least give you and your pals a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! I have some mighty large shoes to fill that my friend and fellow Syracuse Women of Craft Beer member (& founder), Gloria Rakowsky, left for me, but I hope that my style (and shenanigans) will keep all y’all coming back for more each month. Cheers!