Friday, December 1st, 2017

25 Days of Christmas Carols And Craft Beer Pairing

Ron Swarner


25 Days of Christmas Carols And Craft Beer Pairing

The Peaks and Pints pairologists have released our definitive list of “25 Days of Christmas Carols And Craft Beer Pairing.” The revered group of bartenders spent this year listening to more than 253 Christmas carols and drinking 3,816 craft beers, which obviously has nothing to due with our area code or address.

“We listened to every Christmas carol at least 11 times,” said Peaks and Pints bartender Joe Rosati. “Once for the lyrics, once for the tune, nine times to pair the perfect beer.”

We aware that everyone might not agree with the list. “We were strictly objective, and did not let sentimental associations or drunkenness cloud our judgment,” added Peaks bartender Max Tomhave.

“Hell yes ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,’ Elmo and Patsy’s poignant ballad of loss and redemption, made the list!” screamed Peaks bartender Kristen Marlo.

Peaks and Pints will pair a holiday song with a craft beer daily on this blog post, teasing it on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“Feel free to launch the song on our jukebox, or own it all to yourself via your phone headphones,” suggests Peaks bartender Erin Miller. “Either way, the paired beer will be on draft or in our cooler.”

Without further ado, here are the 25 Days of Christmas Carols And Craft Beer Pairing starting with Day One, Friday, Dec. 1, with commentary and analysis by the Peaks and Pints staff. Check back tomorrow for the next carol and craft.


“Fruitcake.” Leave it to the B-52s’ Fred Schneider to craft the best Christmas camp this side of John Waters. His wonderfully kitschy dance party band, The Superions, released Destination … Christmas! (Fanatic) in 2010, which includes “Christmas Conga,” the jolly “Crummy Christmas Tree” and the sexy “Santa Je T’Aime,” which proves that Fred can ho-ho-ho with the best of ’em. But, for today’s beer pairing we chose their “Fruitcake” song.

The are all nuts,
Citrus peel, lots of stuff,
Add what you feel!
Sticks of butter, cinnamon,
Molasses, lots of dark rum,
Artificial color, artificial flavor,
If your family don’t want it,
Give it to a neighbor!
It’s fruit cake!
It’s fruit cake!

Beer Pairing: Brouwerij St Bernardus is famous for both their beers and their heritage. The brewery used to brew the famous Westvleteren beers before the monastery returned all production back to within the abbey’s walls.  Their Abt 12 quad represents what Westvleteren 12 used to be before the abbey changed their yeast strain. St. Bernardus’ Christmas Ale is brewery’s Abt 12 offering, but gussied up with rich malt, dark dried fruit, fig, hints of anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar … basically a fruitcake.Fruit cake!

Heavy as lead
If it hits in the head!
Fruit cake!
It could kill you dead!
Fruit cake!
Yeah, fruit cake! 


“Naughty Would Be Nice For Christmas.” In 2012, a very pregnant Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland opened up the Country Music Awards show with a saucy song that makes no secret about her Christmas wishes: I’ve got your sugar if you’ll show me your spice and There’s no penalty for peeking early under my tree. Beer Pairing: Corsendonk Christmas Ale has all the sugar and spice Nettles needs. Brewed with Pale, Munich and Caramunich malts, plus Kent Goldings hops, this rich, dark, joyous brew has sweetish, yeasty-spicy and slightly fruity aroma of caramel, coriander, toasted coconut, some raisins and a touch of chocolate with similar tastes followed by a medium long, quite bitter, moderately yeasty-spicy and slightly roasty finish.


“White Christmas.” After 76 years, “White Christmas” is still the bestselling Christmas song of all time, which is interesting given that fact that composer Irving Berlin didn’t even celebrate Christmas: He was a Jewish man who emigrated from Russia as a child. Christmas was a sad day for him, which is why the song is melancholy and wistful. The sadness continues as it was first broadcasted 18 days before the Pearl Harbor attack. Beer Pairing: Inspired by Colorado’s white winters, New Belgium Brewing’s Accumulation White IPA seems like an obvious pairing with the song — in terms of the whole snow thing. The wintertime favorite features Mosaic and Amarillo hops, tropical aroma and soft citrus, mango and lemon flavors, followed by a bitter bite. The medium-bodied IPA pours unfiltered gold and blizzard white with a snowy head.


“Deck The Halls.” Fa la la la la la la la! The music to Deck the Halls is believed to be Welsh in origin with roots in the tune “Nos Galan” dating back to the 16th century. In the 18th century, Mozart used the tune for a violin and piano duet. “A year ago, part of the lyrics were used for the grand, over-the-top, razzly-dazzly love story that surprisingly didn’t make you puke one bit — La La Land,” says Peaks bartender Kristen Marlo. The song could afford to give away ‘la la’s as there are 12 ‘Fa la la la la la la la la’s in the song, making a total of 96 ‘la’s. La dee frickin’ dah. Beer pairing: Double Mountain Fa La La La La. Duh. This year’s Fa continues with bags full of Centennial hops to warm your heart and soul. Centennials take the reins with pine and citrus, and a resounding chorus of Gambrinus Organic Pilsner, Munich malt and Crystal malt echo the refrain.


“Blue Christmas.” This was the favorite song of many pairologists, with its complex use of “blue” as a trope: blue snowflakes, blue memories, etc. We all agreed that only Elvis captures the full blueness of the carol, managing to say blue 13 times in his version. Beer Pairing: Brewery Ommegang Winter Is Here — a Belgian-style double white ale, brewed with pilsner malt, white wheat malt, and soft red wheat flakes, hopped with Saaz hops, and spiced with white pepper, sea salt, coriander and sweet orange peel in a 750ml blue label bottle — pairs well with the song due to all the blue happenings in last season’s finale. First, special guest star Ed Sheeran’s character is unexpectedly executed by special-er guest star Rick Astley. Second, a free agent Viserion the dragon joined the cast of The Neverending Story on Broadway. Last, Jon Snow and Daenerys had disappointing sex after Daenerys refused to bend the knee.


“Grandma’s Homemade Christmas Card.” There are many Christmas carols about Grandma, but our panel believed that this song says it all. Merle Haggard sings of his elderly grandma making a Christmas card out of scraps of discarded magazine inserts. Beer Pairing: Some things you can never un-see, and a knitted reindeer sweater your grandma gave you is one of them. Iron Horse Brewery pokes fun at her craftwork with its delicious vanilla milk stout, Cozy Sweater. Full of holiday cheer but a little lighter on the alcohol this brew wears a dark and chocolaty beer foundation. Then comes the lactose adding a smooth and round mouthfeel, plus a touch of sweetness with vanilla beans. Expect a sweet latte flavor mixed with some other tastes of roasted malt and a little bit of vanilla.


“Over The River and Through The Wood.” “Over the river and through the wood” … this standard winter holiday song is familiar to millions. Originally published Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 in 1844, the poem has long outshone the rest of the poems in that volume. The formal title is “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day” though it’s also often used as a Christmas song, with lyrics changed — “Hurray for Christmas Day!” — and “grandmother’s house we go” inserted instead of grandfather’s abode. Maybe there was a divorce. Beer Pairing: Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA. You’ll have to go over many rivers and through many woods to reach grandmother’s house, which is a tiny cabin in the woods, at last according the Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA’s label. In the midst of many big and malty winter ales, Celebration Ale (6.8%) provides a comfortable winter home for the season’s displaced hops … and grandfather. A little darker than the average American IPA, this ale has a citrusy, piney and resinous hop character and a medium body.


“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” Everyone loves this upbeat song by Burl Ives, especially the dude kissing all the girls under the mistletoe: “Oh, ho the mistletoe/Hung where you can see/Somebody waits for you/Kiss her once for me.” Oh by golly could holly be Holly? Beer Pairing: Lazy Boy Mistletoe Bliss holiday brown ale — and not because the “lazy boy” on the beer label is as large as Burl Ives, but rather for the even more obvious “mistletoe” reference. Grab a bottle out of Peaks and Pints’ cooler and dig the toasty malt scents, brightened by sweet caramel and a spritz of apricot. Holly would savor the caramel-chocolate combo that washes over her tongue, while grassy hops and a hint of orange add balance in the back. After a few, Holly might just work up the courage to stand under that mistletoe.


“Suzie Snowflake.” Sung by heartthrob George Clooney’s grandma, Rosemary Clooney, this particular carol is a vivid example of the carpe diem tradition. “I haven’t long to stay,” says Suzie Snowflake, just before she lands on the back of a border collie out for a walk. Beer Pairing: Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws is a natural pairing, even beyond a possible canine connection. This holiday barlywine is a sweet, hoppy and boozy tipple with layers of complexity. The 11.5 percent alcoholic strength is boosted by the addition of wildflower honey collected from the slopes of Mt. Hood. Suzie Snowflake’s dog walk will, no doubt, end with her falling off in the snow; the toffee, raisins, bananas, molasses, honey and booziness will help heal your sadness of Suzi’s eventual demise.


“A Marshmallow World.” This was a popular hit in the ’50s, and deserves a comeback. The gifted Arthur Godfrey with the Chordettes and the Cherry Sisters performed it. Mr. Godfrey makes effective use of onomatopoeia as he croons, “It’s a yum-yummie world, made for sweethearts.” Beer Pairing: The yummy Imperial Eggnog Mud Mountain Milk Stout by Puyallup River Brewing Company pairs well with the song, as Candy Man Eric Akeson uses fresh vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, oats and six different specialty malts, including Chocolate malt, making this milk stout one of the easiest drinking dark beers on the planet. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and other holiday spices and you have Imperial Eggnog Mud Mountain Milk Stout, with creamy flavors of eggnog, spice, coffee, roasted nuts and chocolate. Akeson makes the world taste good.


“Mele Kalikimaka.” This is an admirable attempt to incorporate other cultural traditions into our provincial WASP celebration of Christmas. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters tell the inspiring tale of the Three Wise Men getting lost on their way to Bethlehem, and ending up in Hawaii. Beer Pairing: “Duh … if the dudes are truly wise then they will drink Wingman Brewers beers,” says Peaks bartender Amber Milhans. “Tacoma’s Wingman has planes and coconuts. It’s Stratofortress Belgian Strong Dark Ale aged in bourbon barrels on dark rum-soaked cedar planks with notes of figs and ripe fruit will get you to Hawaii — aloha 11.4 percent! Their P-51 Coconut Porter will keep you there — aloha 8 percent!”


“Frosty the Snowman.” Our pairologists were moved to tears by the picture of poor Frosty running here and there all around the square, frantically trying to have some fun before he melted away. If you listen carefully to the song, you realize Frosty is not quite the jolly, happy soul he was made out to be, condemned as he is to melt away, the sun being hot that day. Beer Pairing: ScuttleButt Brewing Company’s 10 Below Ale. While the name suggests this Imperial Dunkelweiss from the Everett, Washington, brewery could keep Frosty from melting, the 7.4 percent ABV strong chocolate flavors of 10 below Ale is exactly what one needs to keep warm. It’s a malty beast with just enough hops to make it drinkable, and make Frosty’s fate forgettable.


“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.” The consensus among the pairologists was that the best version of this song about a vindictive voyeur — “He sees you while you’re sleeping, he knows if you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake” — was done by the Beach Boys, with their sweet voices belying the dark theme of the song. You better watch out, indeed. Beer Pairing: Santa’s Little Helper (10.5%) is Port Brewing’s offering to replace the milk and cookies the big guy must be getting tired of by now, right? On tap at Peaks and Pints, Santa’s Little Helper smells like Santa’s chocolate cookie kitchen. Once the palate adjusts to the liberal cocoa flavors, an entire advent calendar unfolds: milky ganache, toasted marshmallows, bourbon and Tahitian vanilla toffee. The finish lends hints of sweet crystal malt, warming tones of alcohol and a touch of hops, making a perfect accompaniment to leftover fruitcake and sugar cookies.


“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” This perennial favorite, sung by former jockey Jimmy Boyd, takes a humorous approach to a child’s shocking discovery of his mother’s infidelity. “Mommy” and “Santa Baby” are just two of many songs dealing with the theme of Santa as sugar daddy. Beer Pairing: “The Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon, brews a beer that pairs with Mommy’s merry adulterer — Bad Santa,” says Peaks and Pints co-founder Ron Swarner. “This mysterious dark elixir is filled with complex malt flavors and aromas with toasted malt and roast character, blending seamlessly to the alluring herbal hop aroma that comes from copious amounts of Fuggle hops. Bad Santa doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice; he just wants Mommy.”


“Santa Baby.” As voiced by the sexy Eartha Kitt, this song asks the eternal question: “Santa honey, I really do believe in you, let’s see if you believe in me.” Eartha doesn’t beat around the bush as she implores Santa to “hurry down the chimney tonight” and “fill up my sock.” She assures Santa that she will wait up for him, and ends up with a provocative offer he can hardly refuse: “Come and trim my Christmas tree.” Beer Pairing: “You need a boozy, dark, rich beer to loosen up Santa,” says Peaks and Pints co-founder and cellarman Ron Swarner. “Fremont Brewing’s B-Bomb is a winter ale with dark roasted chocolate malt and rich notes of bourbon, wood and vanilla — a 14 percent delight that is a blend of 9-, 12- and 24-month old ales aged in 12-year-old bourbon barrels. Stop by Peaks and Pints and grab a bottle.  It’s the bomb, Santa baby!”