So, tomorrow’s Halloween, but the Christmas decorations are already out in the stores. The lights, garland and fake Christmas trees are right there at the end of the aisle next to the Halloween costumes and fake witch’s kettles. Christmas just sort of creeps up earlier and earlier every year, and normally I’m against this holly jolly infringement. Call me old fashioned, but I think each holiday should have a little breathing room before we start celebrating the next one. Give the Easter Bunny some space before going all in for Arbor Day.
I do make one exception, though—holiday beer releases. Much like the Christmas decorations in the corner of the store, these sweet, malty beers seem to make their way into the bottle shops a little bit earlier every year. Each winter, I look forward to Highland Brewing releasing their annual Cold Mountain Ale, a malty beer brewed with holiday spices. Asheville goes ape shit over this beer, which is only released in limited quantities over a painfully short duration. I spend a lot of time stocking up on six packs to last me through the winter. But this year, I have a new holiday beer obsession: Asheville Beer Company’s Ninjabread Man Porter. ABC gives a thick, almost chewy porter the gingerbread cookie treatment by brewing vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, raisins and caramelized ginger into the kettle. Yeah, it’s as decadent as it sounds. Cinnamon and ginger dominate, but there’s a nice layer of cocoa, that’s almost chalky, running beneath it all.
Asheville Brewing typically goes under the radar here in Beer City, playing second fiddle to larger breweries like Highland or competition champs like Wicked Weed. I’m as guilty as anyone for not giving ABC their due, but the truth is, I’ve been drinking their Rocket Girl lager for years. Shiva IPA is baller, and this Ninjabread Man porter is poised to reinvigorate my holidays. The best part–this is only the second year ABC has released Ninjaman, which means the beer won’t have a devoted following yet. So you’ll actually be able to find some on the shelves.