The craft beer journey is filled with many different experiences. Some of them are simple and easy, like enjoying a delicious craft beer at home, or in our favorite bar or restaurant. And some are urgent, like buying tickets to a VIP session at a craft beer event. And some are a little ridiculous, like what I did 15 years ago.
It was Christmas 2003 and I had already bought some of my seasonal favorites: Mad Elf from Troeg’s Brewing, Winter Warmer from Harpoon and Anchor Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing. But I wanted to find something new. The problem was, at that time, there were less than a third of the craft breweries that we have today, and distribution of craft beer was extremely regional, with just a few exceptions. But I was determined to find a new seasonal craft beer for Christmas so I started searching the internet. I googled “Christmas Ale” and found one whose description made me thirsty right away: an ale brewed with honey, cinnamon and ginger! It was brewed in Cleveland by Great Lakes Brewing and was appropriately named Christmas Ale.
I was living in Philadelphia then, a town that was rapidly embracing craft beer and knew a few beer distributors that got a lot of the hard to find stuff. But even knowing these distributors, there were some beers they simply couldn’t get… and Great Lakes Brewing was on that list. So I called the brewery to see if they could ship me a case. and found out that they didn’t ship to Pennsylvania, but did ship to New Jersey. After I hung up the phone, it hit me: our Business Manager lived in New Jersey and like many people living in South Jersey, commuted to Philly to work. I called the brewery again and pulled out my credit card and placed the order for a case of Great Lakes Christmas Ale… for $96—$45 for the case of beer and $51 for shipping! And that’s why I now characterize this adventure as being a little on the ridiculous side of things.
But, the best part of all of this is that the beer truly was outstanding and it made Christmas 2003 a little more special. This year, for the first time in 15 years, I had Great Lakes Christmas Ale again, and it is just as delicious.
Best wishes for a great rest-of the Holiday Season and Happy New Year!
100.7 The Bay’s Craft Beer Guy