Ladies and Gentlemen, I assure you, there is no time of the year I whole-heartedly enjoy more than Christmas Time.  More parties than Halloween, more thanks-giving than actual Thanksgiving, more togetherness than all the birthdays, anniversaries, and Satanic Black-Masses of the whole year combined.  Even the mighty onyx-like black heart of your humble author is warmed in this very cold time of year.  Even I will watch,listen,read,otherwise absorb religiously (or as religious as a man in my style can treat something) to the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”.  Perhaps it’s not only the reinforcement of my holiday feelings, or my empathy towards a embittered miser’s conversion, but also the respect towards how the short story has changed the holiday as we know it.  While the only Santa Claus analog was an empty scabbard and Horn of Plenty wielding Spirit of Christmas Present, it has influenced many of the modern traditions of Christmas.  Most notably we can attribute the hearty and joyous greeting of “Merry Christmas!” that can be found on the smiling lips of strangers and loved-ones together.  Puritans at the time, between trying to ban alcohol, women not wearing bonnets, spicy food, comfortable shoes, means of convenience, personal style, bright colors, and pretty much any other form of pleasure or enjoyment, also tried to make Christmas as joyless and somber as possible.  Puritans man, seriously.

Thankfully, this one morality play and story of redemption was successful in not only preserving the fun and joy and charity parts, but also with a great surge of do-good in the days approaching Christmas.  We still have giving to the poor, employers giving bonuses, stores decorating, and even some preforming a public dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol for the benefit of some charities.  I myself will be taking part of that last tradition.  As far as beer goes, I’m sure you’ve all seen the Christmas related beers coming onto shelves in the recent weeks.  As great a tradition as any other, beer today is as conducive to the holiday spirit as it was back when Old Fezziwig would throw 12th Night party.  Usually following the Modus Operandi of other Holiday food, Christmas beers are characterized by aromatic spices and herbs, sweetness, and a great warming feeling when drinking.  Another characteristic, but non-official, is the ability to be shared!  And what better vessel to convey the sharing than a great, bountiful, celebratory MAGNUM!?  I certainly hope you’re aware of the beer I’m mentioning, the yearly release of “Our Special Ale”, Anchor Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale.  I got to try their 2012 release the other day, and I cannot wait to recommend it.  Firstly, very warming indeed.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, even a bit of pine fills the nose and sets the stage for a delicious mouth full of ginger, clove, piney hops, and molasses-like sweetness.  While the recipe is secret, it’s very distinct in most of it’s flavor.  There are still some things that are a bit difficult to parse out (Chestnut?  Rye? Spruce tips???) I certainly won’t mind sitting down with a few friends to gain a consensus on it.  Enjoy it, if you will, and a Merry Christmas to you all!