From advent calendar-style beer boxes to special seasonal creations, BC’s craft breweries celebrate winter with a variety of interesting seasonal mixed packs.
Advent calendars are a popular and fun holiday gift that many of us enjoyed as children. Do you remember the excitement of opening the little paper windows each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve? Some had a different chocolate or candy treat to be enjoyed each day while other calendars had little toys or even Christmas Tree decorations. Thanks to the efforts of some of BC’s craft breweries, you can enjoy that same thrill as an adult — except instead of chocolate, you get to sample a different beer every day.
Victoria’s Phillips Brewing was the first BC brewery to produce a winter-themed advent-style beer box back in 2013. After a hiatus last year attributed to the brewery’s busy production schedule, the Phillips Snowcase Calendar pack is back again in 2017 to the joy of beer fans throughout the province. It features 24 different Phillips beers tucked under numbered flaps.
While Phillips is staying mum on exactly which beers are included in the pack, it guarantees “even more exclusive beers” than in the past. This is one of the things that attracts beer lovers to these mixed packs — the prospect of getting to try a new beer that the brewery has never released before.
Phillips also has a website dedicated to the Snowcase, which will reveal details about each beer on the day it is intended to be enjoyed.
Two Mainland breweries, Central City Brewers & Distillers in Surrey and Vancouver’s Parallel 49 Brewing, have teamed up to produce their own calendar-style pack called the Great White Wonder Adventure Pack annually since 2014. It features 12 beers from each brewery, including some brand new beers and unusual styles that are rarely produced. The two breweries enjoy playfully competing with each other to come up with a creative mix of beers.
“This is something we look forward to every year,” says Graham With, Brewmaster at Parallel 49 Brewing Company. “We love working with Gary and the group at Central City. And this year we created some amazing new beers for the pack along with some rarities from the past.”
“Within our team, we were eager to introduce brand new recipes as well as bring back some old favourites,” added Central City’s Gary Lohin. “When working with Graham and his group at Parallel 49 we got even more excited for the mixer pack once we learned what they would be putting together. Expect to be surprised each day when you crack open the box!”
Back in Victoria, Spinnakers Brewpub produces a special 12-pack called the 12 Days of Holiday Cheer. This one includes a dozen tall 650-ml “bomber” bottles — some from Spinnakers’ regular line-up along with some unique ones brewed specially for the pack. Now that would certainly be quite a cool present to find under the Christmas tree!
A few other BC breweries offer holiday-themed packs, including the playfully named Carton of Coal winter mix pack from Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish. While it only has three beers in it, they are big ones — both in size (1-litre bottles) and alcoholic strength: Wee Beastie Oak-Aged Scotch Ale (7% ABV); Pothole Filler Stout (9% ABV); and Megadestroyer Imperial Licorice Stout (10% ABV). Howe Sound also produces Father John’s Winter Ale — it’s only 4.4% ABV but it is also very tasty.
Another great holiday option is Whistler Brewing’s Holiday Crate, which features three pairs of winter-themed beers in an attractive wooden carrying crate that even comes with an attached bottle opener. The three beers are standards from the brewery: Black Tusk Ale, Wild & Stormy Ale, and Chestnut Ale.
Although not necessarily holiday-themed, the Thor’s Hammer gift pack from Central City Brewers & Distillers is a great option to consider for the geekiest beer geek on your list. It features the regular bottle-conditioned and a barrel-aged version of the award-winning Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine. At 11.5% ABV these are ideal for warming a body up on a cold and dark winter evening.
A few other breweries produce very special beers for the holiday season that may not be part of a gift pack, but do deserve a mention here. Krampus, an Abbey-style Dubbel from Strange Fellows Brewing, is a fine example that would be well received by someone who maybe is more inclined to saying “Bah Humbug!” than “Happy Holidays!”
North Vancouver’s Bridge Brewing celebrates the season wholeheartedly with three different Christmas-themed beers: The Grinch Winter Ale; Santa’s Sac Golden Strong Ale; and Sleigh Booster Imperial Red Ale.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday season there are plenty of options from breweries on the BC Ale Trail.