5 Rules for New Year’s Beer

With New Years Eve rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about which beer you’ll pop open when the clock strikes midnight.  Some traditionalists might say that New Year’s is a champagne-only holiday, but I left the bubbly behind years ago and celebrate the start of a new year with a good beer.  But it can’t be just any beer – I have rules.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1: The beer must have a cork.  Some may bristle at this limitation, but I feel New Year’s isn’t the same without a cork being popped at midnight.  This doesn’t mean you can’t have other beers on hand to celebrate with, but the Official™ new year’s beer HAS to go “pop!”

2: It must have a pretty label.  New Year’s is a dress-up holiday, and your beer should be no exception.  Therefore, a proper New Year’s beer must have a properly fancy label.  This is no time for a Weyerbacher…well…anything!

3: You must be able to see through the beer.  I’m willing to be a little flexible on this one, but most folks want something light and bubbly on New Year’s Eve, so it’s no time to go popping the top on that Sierra Nevada 30 you’ve been saving in the beer cellar (although it’s fine to uncork that monster at 12:05, after the lighter stuff is gone).

4: Speaking of bubbles, it must be rather effervescent.  Even though I prefer craft beer over champagne for New Year’s (and just about every other occasion), I still like my New Year’s cup filled with sparkly bubbles.  Therefore, my New Year’s beer has to be well-carbonated and plenty lively.

5: No nasty beer names.  No one wants to kick off the New Year on the wrong foot, so I avoid good beers saddled with weird names.  Popping the cork of an Allagash Victoria is great, but I wouldn’t want to toast the New Year with a bottle of Damnation – that’s just asking for trouble!

So those are my guidelines for choosing a New Year’s beer, and several tasty selections check all of these boxes.  I’ve already mentioned Allagash Victoria, which is brewed with Chardonnay grapes, making it quite champagne-esque.  Then there’s Sam Adam’s Infinium, a beer that was created specifically for the occasion and that’s pretty tasty if not totally wonderful.  It’s a great choice if you’re serving it to some non-beer-geek friends.  I’d even lump Duchesse De Bourgogne in here as well, even though it’s a little dark and I struggle to appreciate it – it’s still a fancy, interesting beer with a very cool new look to its label.  And if you can’t find any of the above, Chimay Cinq Cents (the one with the off-white label) is nice choice that’s widely available across the country.

I’m still undecided what I’ll be having on New Year’s Eve, but I know I’m not going to be cracking open a can of Dale’s Pale Ale.

How about you?  As always, let us know below!

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle

Author:Jim Galligan

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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70 Comments on “5 Rules for New Year’s Beer”

  1. December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Found a bottle of Sam Adams Infinium for 16.99 at Costco. Haven’t tried it and hear mixed reviews on it but I figured for $17, it’s worth a shot!

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      That’s good price – well worth trying if you can find it at $17! I guess if it’s in Costco many folks will be popping open a beer this year.

  2. December 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Infinium was as lame as this blog post.

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      It’s certainly no “I made beernews.org” post – that was a MASTERPIECE!

      • December 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

        Better than a “let’s just copy what beernews.org just posted” post. ;)

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

          No, it’s EXACTLY that!

          Also, I usually don’t look there before I write – did they have a rules thing too?

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

          No, they just usually have what your blog has just earlier….hence the “let’s just copy what beernews.org just posted” comment.

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

          Adam probably doesn’t have a job!

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

          Plus we’re not a new source (usually), more of an editorial outlet.

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

          Have you figured out that your comment got me yet? If not, here’s ANOTHER reply to make sure you’re satisfied, you troublemaker!

        • December 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

          Um, that’s why I posted it. I knew it would. You mess with the bear, you get mawled.

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

          But I didn’t mess with the bear. I was just going for a nice hike…

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

          Jabs are needed here sometime.

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

          Well, you’ve been Muhammad Ali lately…

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

          He is a Louisville native.

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

          It’s all making sense now.

      • December 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

        Jim wins this point.

  3. December 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I hadn’t even considered the new years beer yet. Now I have to get to considering this. When I first read this I immediately thought of the Sam Adams one though. Perhaps that is the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      Sure – it’s made for it. Just have a backup for when you taste it and go “meh”…

  4. December 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I’ve got a veritcal of Nebraska Brewing Mélange à Trois (5) that I might consider opening.

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      sorry about the double post.

      • December 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

        Don’t worry – it’s good for our stats!

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

      I had one of those once, for about 10 minutes before that bitchy security guard at GABF stole it from me. :(

  5. December 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Sorry, this might matter to me if I stayed up till midnight to celebrate. I’ll just have one of my reglars w/ dinner and go to bed at the same old time (ho…Hum!)

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      I guess you get a pass then. Maybe have one for breakfast on the 1st. :)

      • beercommdood
        December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

        That calls for a hearty fortified stout!

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

          They call ‘em breakfast stouts for a reason, right?!

        • beercommdood
          December 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

          Kegs & eggs!

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

          I’m in – as long as there’s bacon!

  6. Rob
    December 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I hope this release of Infinium is better than the buttery mess the initial release was. Wasted $34 on two bottles last year. One’s still hanging around the cellar. I will not be spending money on it again. DeuS is a much better Bier du Champagne, even if quite a bit spendier. Infinium was one of the most disappointing beers of 2011.

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      I’m interested in the DeuS, but I’ve never had it. It’s actually the leader in the clubhouse for this year at me house.

    • beercommdood
      December 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Infinium was certainly not worth it last year. I’ve been avoiding it this year because of such a bad experience last year with it.

      • December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

        It wasn’t great, but I love the idea of it, and that was enough for me last year. I’ll avoid it as well, as I’m more interested in the DeuS option (that’s if I can find it).

        • beercommdood
          December 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

          No, it was gawd-awful. I was one of the lucky “butter beer” winners. I’m wondering if a whole batch was infected.

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

          Maybe. Mine was pretty decent. Not earthshattering, but a good, slightly-overpriced but fun for the occasion beer.

        • Dalri
          December 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

          I dunno…I had a great bottle, a funky bottle, and then a sweet bottle that was forgotten for a few months…I think it’s just highly sensitive to storage conditions…Costco may not be great for that…

        • December 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

          That’s a pretty good observation – a warehouse store might not be the best environment for beer. Then again, I wish I had a cellar the size of a warehouse…

      • December 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

        100% agree. It was terrible. I’d rather drink Old Milwaukee Light through a straw.

  7. December 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    My favorite is Infinium by Sam Adams. Its a little on the heavier side but it’s fizzy and delicious and comes in a pretty bottle. It is much closer to being the Champagne of beers that *vomit* Miller.

    • December 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      I thought it was decent last year, but as Rob points out above, some thought it was a buttery (and meaty) mess. Not awesome, but still fun to celebrate with. Still, I think I’m going to try and pick up a DueS Bier du Champagne for this year.

  8. Dermot
    December 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    At least in name, Sierra Nevada Celebration seems like a good choice. You could also drink Pliny the Elder to usher out Old Man New Year 2011, and drink Pliny the Younger to usher in Baby New Year 2012.

    • December 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      Themes – I like it!

  9. beercommdood
    December 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m going in a completely different direction, I’m afraid. I have a 1998 barleywine with my name on it for NYE.

    • December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      A good old beer is both good and old (you hope).

      • beercommdood
        December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

        That’s the only part I’m concerned about. I’ve stored it appropriately, but who knows how it was handled before me. But, I have 2 backups (other barleywines from 10+ years ago) should it be lackluster or bad.

        • December 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

          Sounds like a good plan – one of ‘em HAS to be awesome!

        • beercommdood
          December 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

          Half the experience is the anticipation!

  10. Heather
    December 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Love it! It’s delightfully superficial. But you’re right, it should be festive and we need that celebratory “pop”. Yeah, no one wants to enter the year with “Dark Intrigue”. Tho, I don’t think I’ll find a beer called “Bright Enthusiasm”. Will look for an equivalent… :)

    • December 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      TOTALLY superficial! That’s sort of the whole point – it’s not about showing off your beer snobbery, it’s about having a cheesy good time in the New Year’s tradition (at least for me). I say make the beer fit the holiday, which is a pretty superficial (but fun) one.

  11. Don
    December 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    For me, I will try the Infinium again. I actually liked it last year, perhaps I didn’t get a butter bomb. I’m thinking that SA will actually tweek the formula this year, responding to the criticisms of last years initial offering. Funny how that beer pops into your mind though…jus sayin it was a stroke of marketing genius that I think will pay off big in the years to come!

    • December 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Either they’ll tweak the recipe or just bundle it with some dinner rolls…

      • Don
        December 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

        Yeah, they could do a Dogfishesque collaboration with Rhodes you bake!

        • December 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

          the only way I might enjoy the beer is if I was baked.

  12. December 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Infinium is a fun way to ring in the New Year, but I’m going with whatever I have lying around this year. Screw your silly rules. I’m thinking something capped – no foil, the ugliest label I can find (maybe I’ll tear half of it off), the blackest imperial stout, and the dirtiest name possible. Maybe I’ll brew my own Big Black IPA for next year. This year, I’ll have to look around.

    • December 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Hell, I’ll probably wind up not getting to the beer store and drinking a Ten Fidy out of the can myself!

      • December 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

        That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Honestly, I’ll probably just dig something out of the cellar that needs to be consumed. Usually, we don’t even stay up for the clock to strike midnight, but this year will be different now that we’ve been dragged into a little get-together. Enjoy that Ten fiddy.

        • December 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

          Maybe I’ll shotgun it as the ball drops to truly capture the spirit of the evening. :)

  13. December 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    I still say what’s the point of all these effervescent/overly ABVed beers that could just as easily be considered sparkling wine instead of beer. I drink beer for the “beer” taste; if I want something aged in chardonnay barrels, I’ll drink chardonnay.

    Somebody recently gave me Uinta’s Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner, which is corked, and I was “meh” over it. Not saying that there aren’t good beers out there that are corked, but to me, they are very rare in comparison to what you get corked.

    If I don’t spot something special at the store, I’ll probably have my homebrewed Milk Stout or IPA for the evening, with a couple of snifters of Strannie’s for good measure. The wife is too hooked on good champagne for us not to have it at midnight.

    • December 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Well, you can always pull out the cowboy cork on the Strannie’s really quick to make a “pop” noise and call it all even…

  14. December 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    The ideal New Years beer for me is called “Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont” (which translates to “With the best wishes of the Dupont Brewery” and was apparently originally brewed as a new years gift). The label isn’t the most beautiful thing in the world, but I like it. And like Dupont’s saison, it can get cloudy (due to the yeast), but it’s still a light color. But it is absolutely delicious, it has a cork, and it’s very effervescent. I love that stuff.

    • December 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Sound like Infinium, if Infinium was awesome.

  15. Mark S.
    December 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I usually concentrate on clearing out the last of the Christmas/Holiday brews, plus any other assorted stragglers, so I can face the New Year’s with a clean deck, so to speak. There’s usually a fresh batch of porters, stouts, etc. released right after the holidays that need acquiring before we head into the long dry* months of early Spring.

    *dry being a relative thing if you’re into the spring seasonal beers, which I’m mostly not

  16. Benj
    December 22, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Well what if you live in Alabama where anything over 16oz is illegal to sell? Should I drive to another state to pick up a nice corked beer, or pop open a 12 lambic and call it a night?

    • Don
      December 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      You should definitely drive to another state and get a NYE Worthy Beer. You can’t be that far from a cool state…right?

      • Benj
        December 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

        Well Mississippi is close, but I’d probably have better luck here than there. Tennessee and Georgia are a couple hours away but might be my best bet. There is one gas station in Alabama allowed to sell large container, but they only sold Good Peoples county line series. They might be out at this point.

        • Don
          December 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

          Alabama = Beer Purgatory!

  17. December 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I have some of John King’s homebrew. :) Definitely going to drink a few bottles of that.

    I got a bottle of Infinium, a bottle of Chandon (champagne) and a bottle of Tremes (spanish red wine) for with dinner.

    On the note about Infinium changing recipes – there was a recipe change for this year. Girls Pint Out went to the release party and talked to Jim Koch about it. http://blog.girlspintout.com/2119/pre-release-infinium-tasting

  18. Manny
    December 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    I just had some Allagash Curieux this evening. I rather liked it.

  19. January 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    I tried the Infinium. I liked it but I wasn’t extremely impressed. I thought it could have been a bit lighter and the carbonation lasted a little longer.

    • January 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      That’s about right – decent but not amazing. I saw it next to a bottle of Firestone 15 at the beer store. Both were $21.99. One was worth it, the other had a cork. :)

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