21 Dec Ways to Include Craft Beverages in the Holidays
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
The holiday season is in full bloom, even though not many things bloom at this time of year. Being a craft beverage fan, I’m always looking for ways to include them in my/our holiday activities. In order to help you out with your gift list and social schedule, here’s a short list of ways to make craft beer, artisanal wine, and artisan spirits in your celebrations. Most of these are common sense, but perhaps one or two will spark a creative idea for you.
Plan a pub crawl – Get your craft beverage friends together and make the rounds of your local watering holes. To keep everyone happy, visit all kinds of establishments; breweries, taprooms, wineries, distilleries, kombucharies, cideries, and meaderies. Bring all the kids or don’t, but decide that up front. Hire a party bus like Ale Force One to haul you all around so everyone is safe.
Give craft beverage gifts – The possibilities are endless. Giving mix packs of local beer/wine/spirits is obvious, but there are other ways to support local with gifts – gift cards, merchandise, mug club memberships, craft beverage festival tickets, etc. You can also give accessories if that are produced/sold locally, like buying beer kits or other brewing supplies at Great Fermentations, Herrmann Brewthers, or other stores around the state. Coolers, carrying cases, personalized tap faucet handles… the gift possibilities are endless.
Have a bottle share – I don’t know why, but people always call it a bottle share when they’re tasting beer, but call it a tasting party when they’re sharing wines or spirits. Whatever your term, it’s fun to get together with friends and family to share beers/wines/liquors around the holidays. Our family incorporates a big bottle share with our Christmas Day and Thanksgiving celebrations. Make sure to be specific when deciding what kind of party you’re having, so people know what and what not to bring, and make sure everyone has a room or a ride home.
Taproom/Tasting Room/Bar Events – Take an evening away from cleaning, cooking, wrapping gifts, or working overtime to visit a local establishment for their group activities. We’re planning on visiting Wooden Bear Brewing for their Christmas movie trivia on Thursday, the 22nd, but if Christmas movies aren’t your thing, there are many other choices – paint your pet, Singo with Christmas carols, visit Santa Claus, etc. Check your local breweries/wineries/distilleries to see what they have in store.
Host a Holiday Party – So many of our Indiana drinking establishments have party rooms available to rent or use – make use of them! If you have a family, company, or social party around the holidays and you don’t want to clean or cook, look into places around you that are experts at hosting your event.
Plan a Craft Beverage Tourism Trip – Craft beverage tourism is real, and it’s real fun. A fun family/friends activity around the holidays is to plan an upcoming trip. Everyone gets a say and everyone helps to find craft beverage spots at your destination or along the way, for natural places to visit/fish/hike/camp, and activities that make every trip better. Ask friends who have traveled for suggestions and for places to stop when you figure out where you are going. If the trip doesn’t work out for 2023, then hold it for the future. Heck, working together to plan a trip is almost as much fun as taking the trip itself.
Advent Calendars – Large breweries, wineries, and distilleries often have prepackaged advent calendars to help you move toward the holidays at the end of December, and it is a good way to (perhaps) introduce you to some new products. Or you could travel locally and put together your own advent calendar as a communal activity for friends, and then get together to compare and contrast your feelings about the different products.
New Year’s Resolutions – Some people make New Year’s resolutions, and believe it or not, a few people actually follow through. Many people keep their resolutions to themselves, so that when they don’t keep them, nobody will know. If you want to be forced to at least try, then make your declarations a social activity. I don’t know if you would resolve to drink MORE, but you can resolve to support local more strongly or to learn more about your favorite craft beverage’s science, history, or environment. OR, if you resolve to drink less – then consider how you can better incorporate local craft beverages into your reduced consumption.
Toast the New Year – Bring in 2023 with a beer, wine, or cocktail instead of Champagne (has to come from Champagne region of France), although Indiana wineries do make some sparkling wines. Easley Winery makes Indiana Champagne, French Lick Winery has some sparkling wines as well, Oliver Winery has Creekbend Vidal Blanc sparkling wine, Sycamore Winery has Happy Hour made from peach and passion fruit, and Butler Winery has Sparkling Vidal Blanc, 2019. These are just a few examples. We usually toast with an imperial stout, but Walter would be just as happy with a big bowl of locally source sangria or other cocktail.
Be Your Own Maker Space – Make some wine or brew a batch of beer with the family. Have a cocktail recipe contest – try something with the Peppermint Bonfire Bled Moonshine from Moon Drops Distillery. Brew some root beer for the kids. You could make a beer at Thanksgiving and crack it open for Christmas, or you could brew a Christmas stout and age it for next year. Involve everyone by having an art contest for the label.
We hope this helps you enjoy your holidays just a bit more, while also supporting a dynamic industry in Indiana. Make sure that whatever you decide to do, you include those people that are closest to you, it’s one of the reasons for the season.