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When I was perusing through an ever increasing beer stash of mine in late 2012, at a strange crossroad period in my life, I noticed there was a huge number of Christmas beers appearing. It was my first year blogging, everything was still in its infancy and I was still learning about existing blogs and those that had come well before me.

In the midst of that naivety came, what seemed like, a wonderful idea. I could form a Beer Advent Calendar from some of these Christmas beers and write a post about each one. I could transcend my love of Christmas themed commodities into a search for a perfect Christmas beer.  

Of course,a  quick google search of “Beer Advent Calendar” showed that this idea wasn’t even remotely original and longer running blogs had been doing something similar for years. Still, as the idea had come to me without prompt - and as I had so damn many Christmas beers in stock -  I decided to run with the idea.

Year one (2012) was a little ambitious, with some windows featuring as many as three different beers. A new relationship and busy work period added to the whole exercise being a bit of a booze-filled struggle. I vowed then never to write another.

Year two (2013) was a little more organised and a little less ambitious. But still, finding the time to fit in all the beers and then write a corresponding blog post was still too difficult when trying to live a life at the same time. I vowed then to never write another.

Year three (2014) wasn’t enjoyable. Poor health, lack of Christmas cheer and a house moving in middle December made trying to fit in a bottle of beer into a hectic schedule incredibly difficult. I vowed then to never write another.

So we come to Advent 2015 and, after much deliberation, there is to be a Beer Compurgation Advent Calendar. Beer Advent Calendars seem to be huge business this year which has admittedly taken the shine off it slightly – with even the original Beer Advent Calendar and beacon to us all admitting this may be the blog’s final year for over-imitation reasons (though I hope it’s not true)

My (possible) niché still remains that all 24 windows feature beers specifically designed, brewed, branded or themed on Christmas. This isn’t 24 random beers or 24 special beers. No, my calendar remains dedicated to Christmas themed beverages, whether cheap and available on mass or expensive and obscure.

Again, I hope to explore the range of styles and ultimate Christmas tastes. I’ve learnt over the previous three years what gives a beer that extra bit of of Christmas cheer – and what is ultimately just a beer, whether good or not. Classic Belgian Christmas ales, such as St. Bernardus Christmas Ale or Gouden Carolus Christmas have been firm favourites in previous years. Danish Jule beers, such as Nogne’s take with Underlig Jul and Amager’s Julebryg have suited the season well. Hoppier, but usually red, varieties have had their moments occasionally, such as Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and Alesmith’s Yulesmith. Notice the lack of quality from British breweries and, with Team GB dominating this year’s calendar, I can only hope that our brewers have adapted and been more inventive for their festive themed beers.

I realise that much of this post seems to present the continuing question, “Why do you do this when you clearly hate it?” It’s not the case. It’s just that every year I kid myself into believing it is just a simple task of  sitting down each evening in front of the fire at 9pm with a bottle of beer whilst jotting down some whimsical tasting notes. This would make it rather enjoyable.

The reality is much more logistically challenging. This week alone, I have two days when I will be leaving work early, then socialising in the evening direct from work for a late/last train job before going straight to bed. Where do you fit the day’s beer in? And when do you write a review? Even weekends when such events such as Beer O’Clock Show’s #crimbocrawl occur, the only time I can drink the beer is 9 o’clock in the morning or on returning home at midnight. What if that’s a day a 750ml 10% special comes out the calendar?

Then there are the Christmas hangovers; waking up after sinking 20+ drinks on one of the three staff do’s I’ll be attending, knowing that there’s another beer to be drunk through the pain.

The final difficulty is the lack of activity it poses on the rest of the blog. I’m already midway through three long posts on other subjects. I’m attending two events this month I know I’ll want to write about. They’ll be Golden Pints undoubtedly going on. Those posts become rushed or are neglected in favour of the all time consuming calendar.

It’s a difficult task and interesting challenge. Perhaps in my self-deprecation I wondered whether it was worth putting myself through it again. Once the number of people that said they look forward to reading it had reached the heady heights of five though I decided to go for it. Sourcing beers that haven’t made the calendar before has been difficult but I’m ready. It may not be pretty, healthy or informative, but it has become a tradition for this blog since year one. As long as I have the social situation to write it then it’ll happen. Maybe with a little less complaining this year.

Window One review  coming tomorrow


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