In 2005, shop.org introduced Cyber Monday to the American consumer, stimulating the idea of online sales among groups of people who had just come back to work after long Thanksgiving weekends. Black Friday was exhausting to many, and the idea of easy online shopping played softly on the psyche of many folks. Some realized they could shop from work, and many understood the value of ordering online from the comfort of their home, while taking advantage of free shipping.
Shop.org is the online division of the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, representing over 1.6 million retailers in the USA. In addition, it prevails over 100 associations that are of state, national or international origin. The NRF has scored big with Cyber Monday, as other countries have taken up the practice, echoing the USA’s consumerist lead. The UK was fast on the heels of the United States, with Canada and France following in 2008, Portugal in 2009, Germany and New Zealand in 2010, and Chile in 2011. A survey taken in 2009 estimated that 52% of online sales came from work computers, with most of the remaining sales originating from home computers and some stragglers from international locations.
What this means is that a lot of people are relaxing at home or on vacation while shopping. They don’t have to drive. They can enjoy a day by the fire - decorating for Christmas, checking out the Internet deals, munching on appetizers and quaffing beer. To many, it sure beats the frenzied WalMart and Macy’s crowds, frantically filmed by news crews across the country. Some of those scenes are a bit scary, and for those who don’t like the Jerry Springer fist-fight mentality, Black Friday seems to be an event worth avoiding.
Wait … did I say “quaffing beer”? Absolutely. Cyber Monday is a day of total relaxation, and there is nothing better than starting the day with eggs and a delicate wheat beer in the morning. You might like a 312 Urban Wheat from Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago, Illinois. Subtle and citrusy, this hazy golden girl lays soft on the palate, washing the tongue with a kiss of lemon and orange at 4.2% ABV. If you prefer something a bit more assertive and drenched with fruit, you might enjoy Gumballhead by Three Floyd’s Brewing in Munster, Indiana. Filled with the fruitiness of peaches, grapefruit and lime, and accented by flowers and biscuit, this American Pale Wheat Ale marries well with Eggs Benedict, Garden Stuffed Crepes, or Belgian Waffles dusted in confectioners’ sugar and glazed in fruit.
Follow up with your morning Coffee. Coffee Beer, that is. Terrapin Beer Company of Athens, Georgia crafts a Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout with temperament of 8.10% alcohol by volume. Rich espresso flavors of international origin, bittersweet chocolate and flaky oats drench the palate. Soft and silky across the tongue, it captivates with a feathering of booziness, so wait for this until closer to high noon, or sip slowly while you enjoy surfing online. Couple it up with some slices of mild cheese, blueberry muffins and poppy seed roll.
As the time passes, you may be ready for a basket of spicy wings and a selection of Andouille and Chorizo sausages. Nothing goes better with heat than a hoppy India Pale Ale. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California is a classic for this time of year. Well balanced between citrus and malt, this will scrub the palate and warm the spirit. Earthy notes of pine add to its elegance. If you would like to take it a step beyond, move into Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, one that takes you onto the edge of fresh whole-cone hops, with a little more citrus, a little more earthiness, and a little more pine. You may be singing the Fa-la-la-la laaaa song by mid afternoon.
Now that your palate is cleansed, hit it with a fruity Lambic, one with tartness, vanilla and oak. Cantillon Saint Lamvinus from Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels, Belgium comes to the forefront. Fruity and oaky, with the character of a dry champagne and the funky profile that delights those who love Belgians, this distinctive beer keeps coming at you with layers of tart cherries, raspberry, and lactic notes that add to the pleasure. Set the computer aside for awhile as you drift in and out of the complexity. A bit of foie gras or pate, coupled with French truffle butter on a sourdough mini-loaf will make this beer sing in your mouth.
As the evening meal approaches, take cyberspace by the horns and hunker down with a bigger beer. An English Brown Ale such as Saint Botolph’s Town from the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project of Cambridge, Massachusetts is big, malty, caramel-ish and nutty, prepping your tongue for savory meats, pork, a rib-eye steak or barbecued ribs.
Move into some winter warmers to dress the season and keep your nose warm and toasty. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale is a must-have at this point. Crafted at Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery in Tadcaster, England (UK) this late season ale fills the mouth with toffee sweetness, accompanied with nuttiness and caramel softness. Earthy notes follow, along with spices that toast the season.
Finish it off with Nutcracker Ale, crafted by Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri. This 7.8% Winter Warmer is full of brown sugar sweetness, molasses, caramel, and Christmas cookie maltiness, while sliding on the tongue, soft as silk, with touches of fruit, pine, and holiday warmth. This is sure to lock Scrooge in the closet, setting you free to share all the holiday generosity that lives inside of you.
Something Special for you or your favorite pal:
Anthon Berg Chocolate Liquor Bottles 64CT Box
Classic elegance to pair with beer:
Classic Elegance: Gourmet Gift Basket