At 6 p.m. tonight at Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland, you can get an early taste of one of my favorite holiday beers: Great Lakes Christmas Ale. This warming, 7.5-percent-alcohol-by-volume seasonal, brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon, has a huge cult following that now goes way beyond its native Ohio. At the annual First Pour Party at the Cleveland Brewpub on Oct. 25, bartenders poured 6,298 pints of it over 13 and a half hours -- a pint every 7.7 seconds. When I went home to Ohio last Christmas, I couldn't even find a six-pack.
Great Lakes Christmas Ale, shipping today, won’t be officially released hereabouts until Nov. 5, but this annual local advance tasting strikes a Christmas-before-Thanksgiving theme, with a human holiday tree, wrapped presents and other fun. Great Lakes Brewing Co. rep and human tree Connie Tucci says she'll be handing out ginger cookies and invites you to wear your Christmas sweater, too.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. photo