I made a mistake.
I’ll elaborate, but first let’s recap the beers thus far:
From Parallel 49 – Schwarzwald Chocolate Cherry Porter, Filthy Dirty IPA, Old Boy, Toques of Hazzard, Hoparazzi, Craft Lager, and Black Christmas CDA (That one is Day 13).
From Central City – Pilsner, Wheat Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, ESB/Red Ale, and Copper Ale.
Some pretty solid beers so far, though I’d certainly give P49 the nod for having more interesting brews (and names!). Overall the best beers have been the Schwarzwald and Toques, hands down. Schwarzwald was a great start to the calendar and Toques is just plain awesome and a very welcomed surprise early on.
Overall, it’s not a bad list. There isn’t a lot to inspire so far but we’re only halfway. I’m fully expecting some pretty awesome stuff to come out near the end.
That said, there were a few days where I (among others) were getting a bit bored, especially when the bottle of Craft Lager made its appearance. On Twitter, there were tweets ranging from “Actually angry now” (Mine. I was tired, grumpy, and feeling particularly aggrieved), “Bottled Disappointment” (regarding the craft lager), to even one that tagged both breweries asking when the boring beers were going to end. That last one has since been deleted.
So why the anger? There was a good point made that these breweries don’t have the time or capacity to make 12 unique beers each. They need to use what’s available. Absolutely correct. That would be a ridiculous expectation, and I fully concede that point. 12 unique beers just for the calendar? That wouldn’t make sense without jacking the cost of the box up to a ridiculous level.
The problem, I think, is with expectations. I ask myself, what did I expect out of this advent calendar? Even before I started it, I was preparing myself for a lot of what I called “filler”, non-exciting beers, because I was already thinking about that same point made above. I think the more I got into it, the more excited I became. I kept thinking of all the great beers these breweries have made in their history, and started to envision them pulling bottles from that library, instead of the one they have available. So I will say right now that I probably expected too much.
That said, I do think there is reason to be at least semi-critical of what we’ve seen thus far. I mean, it isn’t exactly impossible to make a bunch of cool beers. You know who does it? Phillips. They have a 24-bottle advent calendar that they stock by themselves. Sure, it has fillers too, but they’re making twice as many beers for the box.
Regarding the craft lager: I ask myself, why is the most boring beer in P49’s portfolio in this box? At $75 for 24 small bottles, the box isn’t exactly cheap. With a price like that comes an expectation of quality. Was it really because they didn’t have anything else available? I walked into the brewery today and there were 14 beers available either on tap or for bottle sales (not counting the infusion tower). That means they had 13 beers that were all better than craft lager to choose from. And that’s just today. Considering it would take a while to plan and organize one of these advent calendars, if anything you’d think the potential beers available would increase with more time to work with. Though I would concede that the jelly donut ale that came out in the last few days probably had no chance of ever being done in time for the calendar.
What about Central City? The guys with the big, fancy, shiny, giant, and brand spanking new brewery over in Surrey with all kinds of brewing capacity? Well, they aren’t known for making a huge variety of beers. What they do make is really good, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t making all the crazy brews you see out of an outfit like P49. Maybe that’s why they make a good counterbalance partner. For CC, I’m fully expecting to end up drinking one of every beer you can see on their website, except for the collaborations with other breweries. That was something I already understood and accepted when I bought the box. You know why I’m OK with it? Because Thor’s Hammer is freaking awesome. So are their IPA and Imperial IPA. I’ve heard this year’s Imperial Porter batch is pretty solid too.
I guess the conclusion is that there was some reason for annoyance. But maybe not anger. The craft lager (and other fillers) are good enough for what they are, which isn’t much, but are they so bad that we need to rage against the breweries that make all this cool beer we love so much? Probably not.
Now that the rant is out of the way – let’s look towards the rest of the calendar (this is where I start getting really excited).
From Parallel 49 – Here’s a few options I think we may see in the final 5: Barleywine; Snap, Crackle, Hop; Salty Scot; Gypsy Tears; Ugly Sweater; and N2 Milk Stout. Maybe even the Russian Imperial Stout if we’re super lucky.
From Central City – ISA; IPA; Imperial IPA; Imperial Porter; Thor’s Hammer; Dubbel Trubbel.
As you can see from that list, there is a lot to get excited about. Maybe things were a bit slow for the first half but it’s going to be getting really awesome really soon!