Skip to main content


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


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