Skip to main content

Beer Advent Calendar Window Five - Black Christmas

As I struggle to keep this Advent Calendar fresh as it continues through its fourth year, it was nice to be confronted to a different approach on Saturday.

Saturday 5th December was a day to be out to celebrate the Grub MCR Christmas fair. Whilst the weather caused some disruptions to the plans, it was still a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Manchester surrounded by good people, good music, good food ... and good drink.

This included a Weird Beard Black Christmas on keg.

I've kept a few windows in my Advent Calendar open specifically for a few new Christmas beer releases this year that I've yet to track down, but have expected to. Surprisingly, Weird Beard's Black Christmas has proven deceptively difficult to find at my local beer retailers thusfar. When I saw it available as one of the beers here at this event, I decided that, rather than keep hunting for a bottle, I'd make an on-the-spot review of the beer in it's draught form.

So, for the first time, this Beer Advent Calendar has a beer reviewed direct from a dispensary method that isn't the bottle.

I'm also pleased to see, as with the previous Hop Studio Humbug, a different and welcome take on a Christmas beer. Whilst I still hear a remarkable number of complaints about Christmas beers being a weird style and not for certain people, I've long maintained that there's a lot of scope for brewers to experiment with the theme that hasn't been done yet. A cranberry stout seems like an obvious style choice for the season, but isn't something that I've come across before. 

"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!"

Weird Beard - Black Christmas (Cranberry Christmas Stout) 4.5%

Pouring a dark chestnut brown with slight white head, this is sadly not going to be at its best in its (required) plastic glass form and that it's served cooler than I would like. Still, there's plenty of ground roast coffee, damp woodland and a little heather on the nose. The taste, though, is so festive it makes a mockery of its plastic serving vessel. I'm not used to formulating reviews in such a social environment with the company I'm stood with. "This is Christmas in a cup," I say to anybody around, bringing out my least favourite holiday beer cliché. It does have a warming chocolatey body mixed with a rum liquor heat. The body is full for it's relatively tame ABV. There's woodsmoke, liquorice, cacao nibs and a touch of nutmeg, that are then gently infused with a red berry and holly branch sweetness. It's coldness is more warming at the time than any mulled wine.

Oddly though, amongst all this delicious praise, a strange figure reappears from the depths of my memory in my mind whilst drinking this beer. It takes me a while to recall where on earth this evil hooded cloaked figure is coming from but the unmistakeably brilliant art from Richard Elson brings it back to me. Richard worked on the brilliant Sonic the Comic - something I was a devoted reader of as a child. I don't know why but when drinking Black Christmas a one-off character from the comic named Vile Peter comes to mind. He was an evil child-kidnapper at Christmas if memory serves (I'm hoping the comics are still in my parent's loft.) Of all the emotions I've felt whilst drinking a Christmas beer, this is one of the strangest but one I had to share for that reason. There's a chance the comic strip Vile Peter featured in was named "Black Christmas," which is why my mind may have associated it with a comic strip from over 15 years ago. Incredible how memory works, isn't it? 

Mince Pie Pairing Rating: N/A - sadly I didn't have a mince pie at hand in the Christmas fair environment 

Best Paired with: an evening digging through your parents loft for old comics, with the pretence that you're after Christmas decorations.  


Popular posts from this blog

Children and Dogs in Pubs and Bars

  I once took my niece to the pub. She was either 1 or 2 years of age. I often looked after her on Saturdays and on one of our weekly walks, for the first time, I stopped by the local pub, mainly because my friend was there with his daughter of similar age. The two kids got on well together and it was a lovely couple of hours; a perfect showcase of adult friends and their children existing in public houses. But my sister was furious. She didn’t rant or rave but her lips were purser than a 90s children’s show teacher. It was here that I learned of the effect that our childhood had had upon her. She recalls many an afternoon being bored in the corner of pubs that our Dad had dragged us to, arms folded in the corner with nothing to do, and she doesn’t want the same for her children. The idea of her first born being taken to pubs infuriates her; fearful that they would be subjected to the same unhappy experiences that she was.  I don’t recall those times in the same way as my s

My Life in Guinness - Drink What You Like

      I first obtained my booze “bragging rights” drinking 4 cans of the black stuff at a house party in my mid-teens. Teenage masculinity was judged on one’s ability to put away alcohol in the early noughties. It appears trite and toxic now but, as a 15-year-old, to hear my older brother’s friends say “Well played mate, I couldn’t down that stuff” was the kind of social praise we devoured.   It didn’t occur to me then that twenty years on the same drink would be causing an industry existential crisis. I wasn’t pondering the reasoning behind my drink choice 20 years ago. It was fairly simple: I drank Guinness because I liked the taste. I differed from my friends in that sense, who chose crates of Fosters and Bacardi Breezers for house parties as it was the done thing. At least two of those present at those gatherings would go on to use the common phrase “Let’s be honest – nobody really likes the taste of beer” in their adult life and expect universal agreement.   It

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the