Picaroons (John England/The East)

12 Beers of Christmas

Roast some chestnuts on an open fire and don your ugliest Christmas sweater; the next twelve days will be full of Christmas cheer in the form of beer. Starting today, December 12th, at The Brewtique in downtown Fredericton, Picaroons Traditional Ales will once again be releasing a different festive brew each day for twelve days, as part of their annual 12 Beers of Christmas event.

Each day’s beer will be announced at 12:00 noon through the company’s social media, and will go on sale at 4:00PM or at noon on Sundays. As each day’s brew is limited to a 360L batch, they will be available exclusively in 1.89L growler form with a sales limit of two growlers per customer. This is a popular event and so local beer lovers will want to run down to The Brewtique as close to tapping time as possible.

I recently caught up with founder and brew-master Sean Dunbar, to get the details on these fine winter ales. “We have the best customers in the world”, Sean explained. “[this event] is sort of our Christmas present to our brewtique folks; beer is supposed to be fun and this brings that to light.”

The first beer of Christmas, released today at 4:00PM, is ‘The Rednosed Reinbeer‘. This Irish Red has been infused with cinnamon and pure organic NB maple syrup for a truly decadent seasonal refreshment. I was a bit curious as to where the idea came from and so Sean gave me a bit of insight, “We try to base all the ideas on ‘Christmas-y things'”, said the jolly brew-master. “Sometimes it’s a flavour; more often, it is a name that leads to a flavour idea and sometimes it’s a song title.”

It’s an interesting approach to craft beer, but he gave me the impression that the results can be somewhat unpredictable, “We tried a turkey beer once, with the herbs commonly found in stuffing; it was not so great. We’ve [also] had eggnog — again, not my favourite.” Still, this experimental methodology has led to a number of interesting and original ales, including a peppermint porter, a mulled cider and beer hybrid, and two brews that incorporated the flavours of Ganong’s Chicken Bones™ and chocolate oranges.

The general warning, issued by Picaroons to their customers, is to keep an open mind, “We’re having fun here and not everything works exactly as we plan it in our heads.” Sean maintained that the staff do not really experiment much beforehand, so the customers are also first-hand testers. It’s an exciting opportunity for the brewers to try new things and for the customers to provide some useful feedback.

The team at Picaroons seems fairly busy these days, between business upgrades and brewing new batches of ale each day, but hopefully this much beloved event will grow larger next year. There’s even talk about the possibility of a 12 Beers of Christmas twelve-pack. In the meantime, The Brewtique is certainly the place to be when you’re not forced to be around family this holiday season. I’d recommend that you drop by and try something new. I’m sure that the staff will be happy to make your holidays a bit brighter.

‘Trent Seely is the author of ‘In Stitches’, a regular contributor to RPGamer, Nerds on the Rocks, and a good Saint John boy. You can find his blog, Punctual Dork, here.’