Beer Geek

Ale and farewell: Beers to greet the apocalypse

Dec. 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM ET

Jim Galligan /
Preparation for the end of the world is not complete without some brews to get you through.

There’s a 99.9 percent chance that the world is coming to an end on 12/21/12. The ancient Mayans could tell you as much if they were still around to explain their crazy calendar.  

Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard knows the score. She has declared that fears about the Mayan calendar are well founded, the only thing she’s unsure about is if the apocalypse is going to come in the form of flesh eating zombies, demonic hill beasts or the total triumph of “Gangnam Style.”

The only question left to answer is what beers to sip in the bunker while the whole puppet show comes crashing down. Luckily for us, some breweries had the smarts and foresight to know that this was coming. 

Shocktop brewed a beer for the occasion called End of the World Midnight Wheat, a 6 percent ABV dark ale brewed with chocolate malts, chili and spice.  This tea-colored brew is a pretty simple affair, with lightly sweet malts, a whisper of chocolate richness and an almost imperceptible touch of chili on the back end.  While it’s not a bad beer, it’s kind of wimpy, especially for a craft beer-addled palate like mine. Truth be told, I’d keep this for the 22nd and hope like heck that the Mayans were right.

The believers over at Stone have it wired as well. They’ve recently launched a series of fresh hopped IPAs, each clearly labeled with an “Enjoy By” date to ensure you get the full hop wallop.  Stone’s latest Enjoy By beer is dated 12/21/12. Why? Because they know there isn’t going to be a 12/22/12! 

This 9.4 percent ABV Double India Pale Ale is a triumph of resinous fresh hop flavor, with huge gushes of sweet pine and grapefruit competing to thrill your senses.  Good thing it says “Enjoy By” on the label and not “Enjoy On,” because if you wait until December 21st, your delight in this wonderful beer will probably be inhibited by your consciousness ascending into the fifth dimension. Better to enjoy your Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA while you still care about such earthly matters.

French Canadians are smarter than most Americans, a fact supported by the folks over at Unibroue, who have seen this day coming since 1994.  That’s when they started brewing a delicious golden ale called La Fin du Monde, French for The “End of the World.”  I don’t know about you, but I think the apocalypse sounds better on-fron-say.    

This 9 percent ABV bottle conditioned Belgian-style tripel peppers your palate with its spicy fruitiness and its bubbly body.  La Fin Du Monde starts with smattering of spice, followed by an ambrosia of clove, banana, pineapple and a bit of Belgian funk.  You could do worse than to hoist one of these when the end times come, something Unibroue has made even easier with this handy countdown to doomsday.  Those Canadians - thoughtful till the end!

While all of these beers are themed for the apocalypse, I think they lack a certain amount of oomf. If it is the end of the world, I’m going to party like it’s 1999, and that means big boozy beers.

Maybe I’ll go with a Samichlaus, a 14 percent ABV Bavarian Dopplebock that’s brewed every year on December 6, and is then tucked away to age for 10 months. Samichlaus (Swiss-German for “Santa Claus”) starts out dark and fruity like a barleywine, with boozy notes of figs, dates and caramelized raisins leading the charge, and finishes with the sweet restraint of a fine Trappist Ale.  It’s sort of like a reverse mullet – a party up front and all business in the back.  

Samichlaus is a delightful and rare treat that’s released every year just in time for the holidays, or in the case of 2012, the apocalypse!  A couple of these will have you feeling no pain when the prophesy comes true.

Of course, if I’m 99.9 percent sure the apocalypse is going to happen, there’s still a small chance that the Mayans miscalculated (or, as some know-it-alls will tell you, their calendar simply resets to a new era), so it’s a good thing that the 21st just happens to be on a Friday. 

Because if you’re like me, you’re going to need the next day off.

Tell us, what beer would you prefer to be drinking just before the world ends?

Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter.  

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