While Champagne is the traditional adult beverage to have in your glass on New Year’s Eve, a poll conducted by Wakefield Research found that 60 percent of American men between the ages of 21 and 40 would prefer to celebrate with beer over Champagne. I’m guessing the other 40 percent didn’t want to get yelled at by their wives for being knuckle-dragging barbarians.
If you'd rather celebrate with a well-crafted brew, what beer should you drink? In the helpful holiday tradition, I’ve created this handy guide for what to drink depending on who you are and what you’re doing on New Year’s Eve.
Trying to show your non-geek friends just how fancy beer can be. Going for a beer that resembles Champagne in both form and flavor is a smart move here. You won’t miss with a bottle of DueS Brut Des Flandres, an 11.5 percent ABV Belgian Ale that’s effervescent, fruity and dry. As a bonus, it also comes in a fancy corked bottle that some people might mistake for traditional New Year’s bubbly.
Alone with your cats. You’re a cat fancier with a thirst for the finer things in life, so as the clock strikes 12, hoist a glass of Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty to your feline friends, all of whom you have cleverly named after your favorite astrophysicists. This 5.5 percent ABV American IPA will claw playfully at your tongue with a citrusy wallop of hops, and what are hops if not simply catnip for humans?
Trying to impress your beer geek friends. As midnight draws near, you’ll want to break out the Westvleteren 12 you stood in the rain to get your hands on. This ultra-rare 11 percent ABV Belgian Quad is regarded by some as being the best beer on the planet and is sure to impress even the most jaded beer geek. Figuring everyone gets a 2-ounce pour (hey, make it three – it’s the holidays!) two 330ml bottles should cover up to eight friends. And really, do you know more people than that who are truly worthy of a taste?
Chilling with your bros, bro. As the evening wears on and the Keystone Light flows (and the Ping-Pong balls fly) into the red Solo cups, you’re going to want to draw your ultimate bros near and treat them to the swaggiest suds they’ve ever had. Chimay Grande Réserve (the one in the blue bottle) is a 9 percent ABV Belgian Strong Ale that will blow your bros’ minds with its layers of dark fruits and rich malts, not to mention its righteous corked top. Not only is this fine Belgian brew sold just about everywhere, it’s a great value for what you get.
Working on New Year’s Day. Surviving work on New Year’s Day depends on making smart choices on New Year’s Eve. If you’re going to have a beer, it’s best to go with something flavorful and low in alcohol, like Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, a 4.5 percent ABV Saison that’s grassy, fruity, a little funky and has just a hint of sourness in the finish. It should allow you to enjoy your celebration like a grown up while leaving you capable of dealing with the general public the next morning (many of whom have made poorer choices than yourself the night before and will be crankier than normal).
Afraid of a marriage proposal. While you’ve been searching for Mr. Right, you’ve been dating Mr. Right Now, and he’s been dropping unsettling hints that “something big” is going to happen on New Year’s Eve. Best not to take any chances – you gotta get a bit unhinged so he won’t take it the wrong way when you throw up on the ring. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a great choice here – it packs a hearty 10 percent ABV that’s very well hidden within an ambrosia of earthy fruits and dark caramel flavor notes. Many people have found themselves unintentionally woozy after consorting with this crafty monk, so you’re groom-to-never-be will understand when you’re in no shape to make important life choices come midnight.
A doomsday cultist. It’s understandable that you’re unprepared for New Year’s Eve, because you didn’t make any plans past 12/21/12. Luckily for you, you’ve stocked up on canned goods, including canned beers. Why not break out the finest of the bunch, a tallboy of Heady Topper, an amazing Double IPA that wonderfully balances a gush of citrusy hops with a huge malt backbone.
Middle-aged with small children. In other words, you’re me. In that case, you’re probably going to hunker down at home with Ryan Seacrest and lift a tulip full of Troegs Mad Elf as the ball drops. This 11 percent ABV ale is brewed with cherries and honey and is by far my favorite taste of the season. Enjoying one as 2012 expires is a great way to put a button on the holidays. After that, you’re immediately going to bed, because staying up past midnight doesn’t stop the kids from waking you up at 7:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day looking for a bowlful of Cheerios. No rest for the weary!
In the end, it doesn’t matter which beer you drink on New Years Eve, just as long as it’s something a little special that you really enjoy. In my opinion, about any craft beer is a better way to ring in 2013 than hoisting a fancy flute of sparkling French wine.
Tell us, what will you be drinking on New Year’s Eve?
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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