Beer

Make Your Own Local Beer Advent Calendar

A dozen local beers, for your holiday pleasure.
A dozen local beers, for your holiday pleasure. Ryan Pachmayer
As we approach the holiday season, the days get a little shorter and the nights are colder. A fun and unique thing to do around this time of year is to drink your way through a beer calendar. The concept is relatively straightforward: You purchase an amount of beers, usually 12 or 24, for yourself or someone special, and enjoy one beer per day throughout December.

December 1-24 is a common theme for a 24-pack. A 12-pack gives you a little more flexibility; you can drink every other night, take specific days of the week off, or wait until December 13 to begin.

We're fortunate to be in such a fantastic beer state, where you can get very good versions of virtually every beer style imaginable, making it easy, fun and delicious to put together your own custom package.

Anthony Griego, the beer buyer at Mile High Wine Cellars in Arvada, gave me a hand in picking out beers for a twelve-day calendar with selections from local, independent Colorado breweries. Griego and I focused on accessible beers that you can find in locally owned liquor stores that carry a good selection of craft beer (Mile High carries nearly 300 beers from over seventy Colorado breweries). A good beer store like Mile High will also allow single-can purchases on these beers.
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Hibernation Ale invokes the holiday season.
Great Divide
Tuesday, December 13: Bierstadt Lagerhaus's Helles
We're going to start the calendar off with a clean, crisp, drinkable beer. Helles is not brewed all that frequently by area brewers, but Bierstadt's version is not only available year-round, it's also one of the best you'll find anywhere.

Wednesday, December 14: Westbound & Down's Colorado Pale Ale or Odd 13's n00b
Pick your poison on Wednesday: You can go clear or hazy. Westbound's Colorado Pale is filled with flavor-forward hops, a firm bitterness and a lot of West Coast character. Odd 13's n00b, meanwhile, is a delicious hazy pale ale — soft, light on the bittering hops, but packed with juicy hop flavor from Mosaic and El Dorado hops.

Thursday, December 15: Liquid Mechanics' Lucid AF or Outer Range's In the Steep
Like with pale ale, we know many people prefer hazy or clear, so both options are included here. "Lucid AF is a delicious beer at a great price point and one of our top sellers," says Griego. Meanwhile, Outer Range's In the Steep is a go-to hazy IPA for many Coloradans, packed with a whole lot of Citra hops.

Friday, December 16:
Wiley Roots' Deep Roots or TRVE's Dunwich
Friday is time for your first dark beer of the series. If you want something with a little more heft, Deep Roots from Wiley Roots is a great choice. The 7 percent ABV robust American porter will warm you up on a long winter night. If you'd like something a little lighter but still with plenty of malt character, TRVE's Dunwich is a porter brewed with local Troubadour Maltings malts. The beer clocks in at 5.4 percent ABV.
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Bruz is a purveyor of fine Belgian-style beers.
Bruz Beers
Saturday, December 17: Bruz Beers' Diablo
Saturday night is time for the first big beer of the calendar. Diablo is a Belgian golden strong-style beer, made with 100 percent Colorado grown ingredients. Expect a stronger beer (9.5 percent ABV) packed with fruity flavors from the yeast, along with a dry finish.

Sunday, December 18: Sanitas's Jim's English Beer
After a weekend of fun, you'll want to wind down. It's time to go English, and Sanitas has you covered. This English Bitter is an amber color but packs a good hop punch, with some malt character to balance. At only 4.5 percent ABV, it won't fill you with regret the next morning.
Pump up your Double Dunkel with a little vanilla ice cream!
Wibby Brewing Instagram
Monday, December 19: Call to Arms' Operation Steingrabber or Wibby's Double Dunkel
Call to Arms rebranded its beer earlier this year, in light of the war in Ukraine (it was previously called Shirtless Putin Catchin' Rays), but it remains as delicious as ever. This Czech dark-style lager is smooth and drinkable, without being short in flavor. If you have a case of the Mondays and you want something a little less traditional (and a little stronger), Wibby's Double Dunkel should scratch that itch. The 7.5 percent ABV beer features cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans, and it's a pick that really reminds you of the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 20: Joyride's Ice Cutter Kolsch
Ice Cutter is a great example of the tricky-to-brew style of beer, and we're not talking about fruited beers labeled "Kolsch" here. This is a real-deal, traditional-style offering, with a GABF medal to boot. This will be light and drinkable, but with enough hop flavor, hint of malt character and unique touch of white grape acid from the yeast to keep you fully engaged with each sip.

Wednesday, December 21: Telluride's Face Down Brown
Griego went straight for this beer when we were brainstorming. If it's not the quintessential Colorado brown ale, it's close. The brewery calls it a hybrid of an English and American brown, and that's a fitting description. You get classic, earthy hop flavors and nutty malts, but with some American hop nose and a firm bitterness.

Thursday, December 22: Funkwerks' Saison or Crooked Stave's Stay the Funk In
We're getting close to the end of the calendar, and it's time for a saison. You can go classic, with the Funkwerks option, a delicious, clean, balanced beer filled with the type of character you'd expect from a classic Belgian saison. If you want something a little more wild, go with the Crooked Stave option; it's a delicious spontaneous beer brewed in the Methode Traditionelle style (a respectful way of saying it's a Belgian-style lambic beer).

Friday, December 23:
4 Noses' El Jefe Hot Chocolate or Dry Dock's Cherry Chocolate Imperial Stout
With El Jefe, you have several variants to choose from, including one with coconut and vanilla, but Griego says the hot-chocolate version reminds him the most of Christmas. If you're feeling cherries instead, Dry Dock's Cherry Chocolate Imperial Stout will have you sipping dessert in a glass.
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With a delicious array of spices, Coming in From the Cold is the perfect holiday treat.
Woods Boss Instagram
Saturday, December 24: Woods Boss's Coming In From the Cold or Great Divide's Hibernation Ale
It's the night before Christmas and you're on the last day of the beer calendar. What better than a beer that invokes the holiday season? Coming In From the Cold is a winter warmer with orange peel, vanilla and bourbon-soaked cinnamon and cloves. If spices aren't your thing, Hibernation Ale is an English-style Old Ale with all the malt complexity you'd expect, but with a surprising amount of hop character, as well. This beer is warming, and I cannot think of a better place to enjoy it than next to a fire, as a nightcap to your Saturday night on Christmas Eve.

Pre-Made Calendars
MobCraft Beer recently moved into Denver's Curtis Park neighborhood. The Wisconsin-founded company has its own advent calendar, featuring 24 different MobCraft beers. MobCraft makes good beers and is now brewing locally, too, so this would be a good choice for those who don't want the variety of breweries or the decision-making that comes with selecting all of the beers.

The Costco European Advent Calendar is popular every year, but I don't recommend it as a first choice. It usually arrives in the fall, meaning the beer involved was brewed in the summer, or even earlier. This makes the beer less fresh by December, not to mention potentially stored warm, and having traveled all the way from Germany and Austria, you're just not getting these beers at their very best. Shop local: The beers are almost always fresh, and you'll be helping keep the fantastic beer scene strong.
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Ryan Pachmayer is a beer writer living in Arvada. He has written for publications such as Craft Beer & Brewing, Zymurgy, Porch Drinking, Homebrewing DIY and Punch. He is also the head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub, marketing director at New Image Brewing and a BJCP Certified Judge.

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