In one more week we will reach the start of the Christmas party season when people who haven’t drank any significant amounts of alcohol all year decide to get their annual hangover while being filmed doing something embarrassing.  In the past few years I’ve attended formal dinners, James Bond and Arabian Nights themed evenings, but the pattern is always the same, the ladies get dressed up to the nines and the gents start with full dress suit, but about 30 milliseconds after dinner finishes dispense with the jacket and tie.  Too much overpriced table wine and overpriced generic lager is drank and by 11pm we are into shooters territory before at least a handful of people either pair up when they shouldn’t or simply fall asleep at the table or if unlucky in the toilets, while worshiping the white bowl god.

I’ve observed this both sober due to driving and very drunk due to a very tasty but badly planned warm up session at the Sheffield Tap at the city’s’ railway station (in my opinion is one of the best pubs I have been in from an aesthetic and beer selection point of view) which saw me down 5 pints of strong beer before I even reached party venue at 8pm.  I can’t deny I enjoyed the evening, but was told I appeared to change colour from green to gray to almost human the following day at work.  I’ve also got to admit it is good fun watching the proceedings while sober and seeing peoples decline into drunkenness.

However this month is a boom for restaurants and venues who can charge inflated prices for a less extensive menu which they can knock out quickly to satisfy demand.  It also helps the pubs which surround these places as they gain from the pre-party and post-party celebrations.  These takings are essential to a years trading as the traditional quiet months of January and February come along all too quickly.   This year I saw my first leaflet for Christmas bookings in July and was told by one owner that their first booking was in June before the leaflets were even put out in his pub.

Personally I could give or take the festive occasion and just the enjoy time with friends and family, but having children aged 3 and 9 makes this an impossibility and every year I go along with the charade.  This year I’m in the situation where my eldest daughter has seen the light about who pays for Christmas and we now can’t pass the buck to St Nick so we are getting requests directly.  It saves all the hiding of the presents at the grandparents house / in the higher cupboards of the house, but at the price of having to field an increasing shopping list while knowing that she has no chance of any of them, as you have ordered the lot in one go online already to get it out of the way.

However I’m now having to think about the important parts of the actual day of celebration which the Christians hijacked from the Pagans of the time to celebrate the birth of their messiah sometime around that time of year.   So lets talk beer, the day generally has very limited pub time with most establishments operating a 12pm-3pm window of service, so while you can wet the whistle for a few hours its not going to last all day.   I’m also finding as I get older that my ability to keep up the pace on a day time session is slowly diminishing.

So this year will be small number of high quality beers, the drink to accompany the main meal of the day being Durham Brewery Temptation.  I’ve had most of their output which is available locally, but have needed an occasion to justify the £6 price tag for the half litre bottle of this beer.  The rich 10% Imperial Russian Stout brewed strong to avoid freezing on its Baltic journey, the same rich flavours matching the strong flavours in christmas dinner.  But you can’t go heavy all day, so a lot of the beers will be a mix of the single hop varieties from Mallinsons near Huddersfield with Sorachi Ace, Chinook, Galaxy and Centennial being high on the list.  Then to finish the day something a bit different, so some continental fruit beers from the Belgians like Lindemans Kriek, Framboise (Cherry and Raspberry) will freshen the palate.

The Bucks Fizz with the bacon butties is to stay however as is the tradition in our household.   Beer before 11am outside of an airport is still a no go personally.  Somethings don’t even change for Christmas day.

Happy Supping.