Though the carols, decorations, and gift-giving might appear standard on the surface, no holiday feast on the calendar is as varied as what makes it to the Christmas table. Every family has its own tradition, and the bigger the family gets, the more traditions and the more meals you’re likely to enjoy.
At this point in my life, my family has introduced and broken Christmas meal traditions so many times it’s hard to keep track. These days it’s a multi-family event spread over three or four days with brunches, dinners, desserts, and plenty of drinks. I suspect some of these dishes will adorn your table as well. Should that be the case, here are a few local beer pairings to explore.
Red chili and The Post Brewing’s Dry Stout
As far back as I can remember, my mother always made a pot of red chili on Christmas Eve. Easy on the tomatoes but heavy on the beans and ground meat, it’s the kind of chili that is immensely satisfying and immediately filling. Seriously, what’s better than a bowl of piping hot chili on a cold, wintery night?
Plan on serving up a pot at your house? You’re going to want a beer that smooths that punch out: stout. I would avoid the heavier imperial versions and the overly sweet offerings and aim for something that exhibits dark chocolate and roast to harmonize with the seasoned beef, the soft beans, and the spicy chilies. So get your hands on The Post Brewing’s Dry Stout. It’s low in alcohol, subtle in flavor (some smoke, some bittersweet chocolate, some coffee), and with a perfectly dry finish, it’ll send you back to the kitchen for another bowl.
Speaking of stout on Christmas Eve, one of my aunts makes oyster soup for those in the family who don’t care for spicy things. Should you fall into that category, lucky for you, stout goes as well with oyster soup as it does with chili. There’s even a version of stout brewed with oyster shells called—what do you know—Oyster Stout. Brewers ’round these parts don’t have a lot of excess oyster shells to work with (though The Post used to make one for Jax Fish House years ago), but it’s worth checking your local liquor shelves for a bottle or two from beyond county lines. Of course, you could head down to Denver and try Wynkoop Brewing’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, but those are oysters of a different kind.
Enchiladas/tamales and Wibby Brewing’s Home Team Pilsner
My father-in-law grew up in New Mexico with a love for Southwestern cuisine. I lived in Los Angeles for a spell and fell head over heels for the Mexican dishes populating the Golden State. So for him, Christmas is for enchiladas: piled high and smothered in silky red sauce. For me, it’s masa rich tamales, dabbed with scalding hot sauce or buried under a mountain of pico de gallo. These plates beg for the cooling surrender of lager: crisp and clean, malty and sweet. Wibby Brewing has plenty to choose from, but reach for Home Team Pilsner if you also plan on stacking something spicy on your table. Home Team is floral on the nose and pops with sweet cereal grain in the mouth. It’s a winning combination.
Hawaiian ham and Southern Sun Brewery’s Colorado Kind Ale
When my godmother makes the ham, she pins on enough pineapple to send you off to the island state with whispers of Bing Crosby in your ear. It’s a personal favorite, as is Southern Sun Pub & Brewery’s Colorado Kind Ale. Sometimes Kind comes across like a caramel-ly, malty amber; sometimes the Cascade hops pop through and put it in the pale ale category. Either way, it’s damn good, and those piney hops clean up the syrupy pineapple while the sweet malt blankets the salty swine.
Roast goose and Primitive Beer’s French News Wave
For years, my grandfather would lie in wait next to a freezing pond in the windswept gray of a South Dakota morning for the chance to bring home the Christmas goose. You don’t have to go through all that rigmarole to get the goose to your table, but if you do, grab one of Primitive Beer’s spontaneously fermented beers, and it’ll be a yeasty, funky, fruity pairing for the ages. I’d go with French News Wave—Malbec, but anything with the designation M.T. (Méthode Traditionnelle) will do the trick.