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Christmas Beer Cheers


No sooner had I posted my Weekend Hitlist featuring the Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, than I picked up the new edition of Chronogram magazine and found a feature entitled Hoppy Holidays.

“In present-day America,”

writes Eric Steinman,

“the holiday brew furor really began in earnest in 1975 at Anchor Brewery in San Francisco. Known for their heralded and patented “steam beer” technique, Anchor owner Fritz Maytag decided to brew something different for winter, which had been considered the slower season for beer consumption. As a sort of one off, he brewed the now-famous and widely sought after Anchor Christmas Ale, and the rest is beer history.”

Santa Lager, the Christmas Offering from the Hyde Park Brewing Company. That’s Hyde Park, New York, not London.

It’s a good feature all round, with lots of information about Christmas Beers from both near and far. (But mainly from near.) And it’s the second excellent piece I’ve read by Eric Steinman in Chronogram. The first was entitled Living La Vida Locavore, in which he attempted to follow the ethos of those who “consume only what has been created within a 100-mile radius of where they live.” That’s not too hard to achieve in the fertile Hudson Valley, at least not until Steinman started to figure from where hailed his morning coffee. I particularly liked the following detour:

“Into my second week of locavoring, I hit a major obstacle. My wife went into early labor with our first child, and we were immediately uprooted to clinical hospital life for nearly four days. While enormously happy with my firstborn, I was exceedingly anxious that my endurance project was blown. As my son happily nourished himself with mother’s milk (possibly the most local food there is), I harangued the hospital staff about how to get answers about the terroir of their served food. I was suddenly channeling my sister’s panicked neurosis, and trying to get definitive assurance that their mashed potatoes and mystery meat were not only local, but edible. Utter futility. I wound up making a few mad dashes to the local health food store, but, ultimately, I broke the rules with two slices of limp toast and a paper-thin cheese omelet (origin unknown).”

Though it publishes more than its fair share of hippy nonsense, Chronogram is generally an excellent magazine, delivering 140 pages (about half of them advertising that pays for the rest) in the December issue. Even better, the whole magazine is available online. Start your reading here.

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