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Dreaming of a White Christmas


When it’s time for a holiday party, most fashionistas seem to think of the little black dress, embellished with sequins and lots of gold jewelry; but that little black dress must be the most hyped-up accessory in America. So is the glass of Merlot that graces the fingers of the woman who plays into faux fantasies. In the movie biz, such a scene would be critiqued as “predictable and boring.” And few women want to be viewed as either of those naughty words.

Close your eyes and think of what winter brings to mind. Glistening snow; the momentary pause of a white fox in the woodlands; the smooth, moussy head on a glass of white ale; a marabou décolletage framing a firm, rounded bosom – yet, few imitate such beautiful visions when going to a winter soiree. It’s time to break free from convention and dwell in all that reflects the white of the season.

That glass of Merlot is passé. Women who truly want to be noticed are imbibing in the finer line of craft beers available in their local bottle shop. If your host hasn’t recognized this fact, it’s high time to take along a few exquisite bottles of craft beer to share. After all, craft beer is the great social lubricant. Even the most exclusive craft beer will awaken the palate, while not breaking the budget.

Keep your focus on white, and take along a story to pique interest. The Pacific Northwest calls to mind highly hopped beer; Belgium has its wild beers of the Senne Valley; and the Mid-Atlantic states seem to center around Extreme Beers. Sean Lilly Wilson, Owner and “Chief Executive Optimist” of Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, has his own zen-like focus on creating craft beer with Southern Style. Using locally-sourced ingredients and a sensitivity to Southern charm, he creates beers that would settle well into the Winter White scene. Beasley’s Honey White would be just the kind of beverage that would catch a host’s attention. Crafted with Bee Blessed Pure Honey, North Carolina oats, and Tellicherry Black Pepper, this unfiltered, hazy girl is fit for display in a fluted glass.

On the horizon is Fullsteam Scuppernong Sparkling Ale, as hazy and golden as the morning fog. Carrying a moderate alcohol level of 5%, it is 100 percent naturally fermented, and displays the delicate feathering of Scuppernong Grapes, followed by a dry finish. This lovely lady had her opening night at the 2008 Southern Floodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, and remains an awaited beauty each season.

The White Horse Brewery Company Limited lies among the hills at Stanford-in-the-Vale, Oxfordshire, England, looking out toward White Horse Hill, in full view of an ancient equine figure known as the Uffington White Horse, dating back to the Iron or Bronze Age. This prehistoric figure is “formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk,” and is owned by the National Trust.

Honoring this part of man’s history, the White Horse Brewing Company has crafted White Horse Bitter, a year-round English Bitter of 4-4.5% ABV, made with locally sourced ingredients. Owner Andy Wilson is proud that his brewery was listed in Roger Protz’s Good Beer Guide less than a year after he opened in 2004. Wilson also brews Rudolph (the Red-Nosed White Horse), a Winter Warmer of 4.8% ABV.

White Birch Brewing of Hooksett, New Hampshire (USA), can fill your white tooth with a huge portfolio of beers, fit for a winter celebration. Founders Bill and Ellen Herlicka have brought together a top-notch team, dedicated to crafting the best in the business. With Head Brewer Chris Shea of St. Louis, and Brewery Assistants Andy Eppinger and Geoff Burgess, White Birch rolls out a rollicking display of great tongue-pleasers.

White Birch Tavern Ale had its inspiration from local family lore. Designed in the shadow of Loggerhead Ale made by Butter’s Tavern in 18th Century Concord, NH, this smoked imperial brown ale echoes the smoothness of a brown ale, tinted by roasty smoke of the family of Scots who gave rise to Butter’s hostelry.

Rusalka Stout is a reflection of the local water demons, dripping with sexual danger, amidst their complex grain bill of barley, wheat and oats. This one comes steeped in complex flavors of dark fruits – red raisins, juicy plums, and succulent figs – rolled in burnt brown sugar and bittersweet chocolate. Take it a step beyond to Ol’Cattywhompus English Barleywine of 9% ABV, a sipper that needs gentle coaxing at your lips.

Brewer’s Reserve 3rd Anniversary Ale rolled out in July of 2012, and is prime for the Winter market. As an Oak-aged Belgian Style Quad, this one has a backbone of fruitcake maltiness, doused with hints of vanilla and nuts. Like a piece of fine art, the bottle is signed and numbered, and clocks in at 9.7% ABV.

One more White Birch not to be overlooked is Indulgence Ale for Winter 2012. Crafted with chocolate malt and house yeast, this 9.3% libation lays rich and velvety on the palate, seducing you into an imagined pool of café latte and mocha sinfulness.

If you require a simple break from the rich malts of Jack Frost's chilly season, Bell’s Winter White Ale from Bell’s of Kalamazoo, Michigan will do nicely. Cloudy mists of yellow fog fill the glass, topped by a thick white head and shards of lace. Aromas are wheaty, squeezed with orange, banana, and lemon succulence, and dotted with the spiciness of coriander, clove, and white pepper.

One last escape sits on the edge between beer and wine. White Winter Brackett, a braggot crafted by White Winter Winery, Inc of Iron River, Wisconsin, pours like burnished copper, capped with a lean, bright head. Sweet honey-painted black bread drenches the air with its clean aroma. On the tongue, the flavors develop fully, enhanced with cinnamon, clove, vanilla, oak, berries and jam.

Beer is no longer the dull drink of old men. Take time to browse the bottle shops for beautiful, shapely bottles or graphics fit for museums of art. Take notice of the simplistic, as well. Hidden gems are everywhere. The discovery may lead you into a love affair that will far exceed the fantasy. Revel in your Winter Whites.

Cheers!

Never have enough glassware? Get something classy with frosted whites:
Straight Sided Frosted Glass w/ Clear Lip, 12 oz - Case = 48

Run your bar like a pro:
OXO SteeL 11-Piece Barware Set

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A Few of My Favorite Things
Double Chocolate Stout Espresso Cookie Recipe
Gourmet Treat - Holiday Beer at Monk's Cafe
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Content copyright © 2013 by Carolyn Smagalski. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Carolyn Smagalski. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Carolyn Smagalski for details.

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