Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, something else, or nothing at all…it’s a weird December.
That said, we can still find ways to enjoy traditions, both new and old. In the BC Craft Beer community, people in the industry are finding solace in traditions that fit this year’s restrictions or adapting them to make sure the time still feels special.
We checked in with a few of our brewery friends to see how they’re celebrating this year. Some enjoy traditions inspired by their cultural roots, from places like Italy, Germany, Colombia, and Belgium. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to take up a new tradition or adapt an existing one. And, in case you missed it, definitely be sure to check out our holiday beers round-up and beer gift guide for more festivities.
As for myself, just two days ago, I moved from Victoria to Campbell River. I’m going to miss YYJ’s hub of breweries and the friends that join us inside them, but you better believe we’ll be starting a new holiday tradition that includes some Beach Fire Brewing beverages (and perhaps an actual beach fire if it doesn’t rain too hard).
So take a gander and let us know on Instagram what traditions you’re celebrating, adapting, or adopting this season!
Staff Christmas tree cut-down with Susi Foerg of Rustic Reel Brewing Co.
“Growing up in a German household, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. I prefer this to celebrations on the 25th, because there’s really nothing like opening presents by a fireplace, or just even in the evening with the twinkle lights and candles.
The mood is amazing and always feels more cosy and wholesome! For this reason, we close our brewery in the early afternoon on the 24th so that we can all enjoy the evening with family and friends.
What I started last year (our first year of business) was an annual staff Christmas tree cut-down event! We headed up on a logging road, where we had a fire with pallets, roasted smokies, enjoyed some hot apple cider, and then went into the woods to cut down the Christmas tree for the brewery. It’s such an awesome team-building event where we can all laugh, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
It was definitely much-needed this year with all the stress of the restrictions and regulations we have to uphold every day. At the end of our wilderness outing, we head back to the brewery where we trim the tree, enjoy a few more drinks, and share a staff meal. Nothing beats those wholesome, real moments!”
Rustic Reel Brewing is located in Kelowna.
Italian treats with Anique Ross of Luppolo Brewing Company
“There are a bunch of Italian Christmas traditions that we enjoy, but I was thinking specifically of panettone. It’s an Italian Christmas cake that is very traditional. A friend of ours makes a version locally, which is to die for, that we sell every year at the brewery. My in-laws in Italy always keep it close to the fireplace before eating it so the butter in the cake warms up a bit before serving. We’ll usually try to pair panettone with a seasonal release or crack a vintage bottle of ours from the cellar.”
Luppolo Brewing can be found on the Vancouver Ale Trail.
Special Belgian-style brews with Ben Coli of Dageraad Brewing
“Christmas traditions are a bit weird this year, of course, and they’re going to be a bit pared down. We always wanted to make a Christmas/New Years/Festivus tradition of Anno, and a lot of people tell me that they open a bottle on Christmas day every year, which warms my heart to the cockles.
Running a brewery, we’re always looking a month or two or three ahead, so we’re thinking about spring in December and getting our summer lineup planned in March. For me, the Christmas season starts in September, when the pears are being harvested. We buy a hundred pounds of Okanagan pears and lay them out to ripen wherever we have room in the brewery, which takes a few days or a week, depending on how warm it is.
Then a few of us get cutting boards and knives and (often with a beer) we pare the pears and put them into ziplock bags and freeze them. Even though it’s still warm out, sometimes positively sweaty, for me that’s the first step in Christmas.
It’s always a little jarring because mentally we’re all still in summer mode, and the realization that we’ve got to get to work on our Christmas/New Year’s beer is bittersweet.
Anno is a unique beer for us in that it gets a new label every year. We usually get to see what kind of magic Lexane and Eli have cooked up for us by late October, so while everyone’s carving pumpkins, we’re seeing the design of our Christmas beer label for the first time, which this year has accompanying matching glassware. I think this year’s label is the best yet. It doesn’t even say Anno on it, but all of our fans know what it is.
And then there’s the bottling. Our bottler can’t fill the big 750ml bottles we use for Anno, so we bottle this beer by hand. It’s a long day of work. I think we did 240 cases this year. That’s a lot of throws of the old bench capper to get all of those bottle caps on. We try to make it fun, play some music, and there’s always a beer break about an hour before we’re done, but it is exhausting work.
And then every Christmas the brewery makes a gift pack with Anno and a few other fancy beers and glassware in it. We give one to every member of our staff because I want to force every member of my staff to enjoy Christmas the way I do, with a glass of Anno in my hand.”
St. Nicholas with Chloe Smith & Cédric Dauchot of Townsite Brewing
“We celebrate St Nicholas on Dec 6th [which is common in several countries, including Belgium, which is where Cedric is from]. The kids put out speculoos cookies and a beer for him, which Cédric and I enjoy once they are in bed!”
Located in Powell River, Townsite Brewing can be found in the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.
Krampus festivities at Strange Fellows Brewing
The folks at Strange Fellows Brewing celebrate Krampus, who’s kind of like Santa Claus’ evil distant cousin…
In the past, Strange Fellows Brewing has done an event called Krampusmarkt, but it was cancelled this year due to the restrictions on events. Instead, the brewery decided to do socially-distanced photos with Krampus!
The brewery writes, “KRAMPUS may seem a little flat this year but he’s doing his socially-distanced best to accommodate his annual photo session under the circumstances. He’d love no better than to sit you on his knee, to wrap his arms around you, but Dr. Henry said not this year — so that will have to wait ’til next.”
Visit Strange Fellows Brewing any time 12-8pm Sun-Thurs / 12-10pm to take your own photo with KRAMPUS. They also have a KRAMPUS inspired beer available, a Belgian style Abbey Dubbel.
Late-night Colombian-style festivities with Andres Amaya of Andina Brewing Company
“Christmas in Colombia is celebrated most prominently on Christmas Eve, so the important date you can’t miss is December 24th.
Growing up, we would dress up and visit with parents, siblings, and grandparents. A big tradition was to go buy fireworks and burn them either on the street or in the back yard. The sounds and colours of burning fireworks lifted our spirits while enjoying a nice cold beer or a stiff drink. Afterwards, at dinner, usually, everyone spoke at the same time and there were many conversations going around the table, but somehow everyone knew what everyone was talking about.
Of course, we can’t spend the holidays with the whole family and do fireworks this year, but I’m grateful to have my own family at home now to spend it with. We’ll still have a big dinner of ham or roast, lots of salads, bread, cheese, buñuelos, natilla, fruits, and many desserts. Plus some great spirits and beer, of course.
We’ll still stay up late and, eventually, we’ll gather around the Christmas tree and open presents. Then we’ll probably stay up even later into the earlier hours of the morning (which we always do), enjoy some more beer and drinks, just telling stories and talking and enjoying our time together.”
Feliz Navidad with Mauricio Lozano of Faculty Brewing
While Mauricio’s Lozano’s favourite Mexican Christmas tradition isn’t possible this year, he’s remembering it fondly.
“The most Mexican Christmas celebration is a Posada. Posadas are super popular in Mexico, but not exclusive (they come from the Spanish colonial tradition, so most Latin American or Spanish colonies like the Philippines have a version of it). It has a very deep Catholic root.”
It’s a large gathering (a neighbourhood, extended family, even co-workers, etc.) that starts with a re-enacting of Mary and Joseph asking for ‘posada’ (which means shelter, hostel, refuge, etc.). Half the party goes outside the house and half stays inside. The outside group has lit candles. You can bring small figurines of Mary and Joseph; some go as far as to dress a couple as Mary and Joseph. There is a call-and-answer-type song with each side singing different verses.
At the end, the whole outside group is welcomed inside and there are traditional foods and songs, but specially in posadas is where the star-shaped piñatas are broken, which are filled with traditional candy, but mainly sugar cane and fruits.”
Lozano says he usually travels back home to Mexico to celebrate Christmas at least every other year. “Going home for the holidays will mean going to several posadas, which is pretty much the main type of Christmas party everyone hosts.” He has also hosted them here, but obviously won’t be doing that this year. His immediate family will be doing a mini “adapted” version or at least enjoying a celebratory meal of traditional Mexican dishes and some piñata treats.
Faculty Brewing can be found on the Vancouver Ale Trail.
When it doubt, go all out
This year, many breweries are going all out with their decorations. I don’t know about you, but my mood instantly improves a little when I come across an extravagant Christmas tree, pretty lights display, or kooky decorations.
So, to all of you breweries that have been decking the halls: we see you, we appreciate you.
Give them a socially distanced high five when you stop by!
And for those who don’t celebrate
Another Beer Co. co-founder Alex Jopson and his wife Nadine Hansen don’t celebrate Christmas, but last year they decided to open up the brewery on Christmas day. No decorations, just lots of good, welcoming vibes.
“We figured there were others that either didn’t celebrate Christmas themselves, or maybe didn’t have anywhere to go on the day. We were quite busy throughout the day.”
They’re doing the same this year. So whether you celebrate Christmas or not, if you live in New Westminster and want a place to hang out socially-distanced, drop by alone or with your core bubble to simply enjoy some nice fresh beer.
That’s always worth celebrating.
Another Beer Co. can be found on the New West, Delta, Surrey & Richmond ale trail.
Cheers to traditions new, old, and re-imagined!
From everyone at the BC Ale Trail, we wish you a healthy, happy, and warm season.