Buying Beer for the Company Christmas Party

Being the resident beer geek in the office, I was asked to help pick out some beer for our Christmas party tonight.  They had already bought 12’s of Miller Lite and Heinekken, and wanted me to get something more interesting.  What to do in this situation? 

Most of the people I work with are in their early 20’s and most don’t know a thing about beer.  I’d love to take this opportunity to educate them, but I’m trying to be realistic about it.  Anything too fancy would be lost on them and would probably go untouched (possibly leaving plentiful leftovers for me).  So I punted and went with the two mixed 12’s above, one from Smuttynose, one from Flying Dog.  A couple of the beers in the pack are heavyweights, but most are well-made session beers, which I think will be perfect for tonight.  It also allows us to put out a variety of beers to suit a variety of tastes.

We’re  going to have a flair bartender at the party throwing bottles around like that handsome dwarf in Cocktail, so the beer will probably go untouched anyway.

What would you do in this situation?  A case of Mad Elf (I considered it) or a 12 of Corona and screw ’em?

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

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12 Comments on “Buying Beer for the Company Christmas Party”

  1. December 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    If I am ever tasked with buying booze for others, I tend to go with something people think is considerably fancier than it is. I like to go with American Belgian-style ales and wheat beers. It satisfies others, making them think they’re drinking fancy beers, and doesn’t force me to drink miller light. It’s rather unusual that you randomly find others willing to drink Imperial Stouts, Imperial IPAs, or anything that’s aged in a barrel. My other option would generally be something like you just did, pick up a mixed 12 and see what sort of responses I get. Hopefully somebody drinks an IPA, has a life changing experience, and we can become BFFs.

    I think you made quite the excellent choice with the Flying Dog 12’er, but my knowledge of Smuttynose is inadequate to pass judgement.

    • Jim
      December 11, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

      I thought about going with something seemingly fancier, Brian, but this is the first time I’ve put beer in front of these folks and I want to see how it goes.

      I work with an interesting mix of people, from party girls to doctors, and I thought variety was safer. We’ll see how they do and maybe next time I’ll treat them to something more special.

  2. December 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    Like Brian, I’ve never had the Smuttynose. Flyingdog is an ok beer by me, but never hits it out of the ball park, BUT I think it is a great choice for office folk who think Miller lite is flavorful and Heinken is sophisticated. I hope you get reimbursed for your expenses!

    Our Christmas party is in a week, and besides my bottle of homebrew, it’s all wine. The boss is a wine guy with a cellar of over 500 bottles in his basement. I’ll drink it!

    • Jim
      December 11, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

      I’d drink his wine too, Nate! Sounds like he’ll put out some good stuff if he cares that much about wine.

      I used my company Amex to buy the beer, so I got that covered. I don’t think it’d be worth it to spend my own dough on good beer for my coworkers. I love ’em, but they probably care more about calories than character, as many of them are attractive young ladies.

      I know, poor me having to buy beer for hot girls – it’s like high school again!

  3. Rob Crozier
    December 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    Another middle of the road choice that please most of the “Light Beer Crowd” is the Sam Adams sample pack. Most, if not everyone, knows Sam Adams and feels like they are drinking something more sophisticated that what they normally drink and you don’t feel like you skimped on what you brought. I feel that Sam Adams is the “bridge” beer that converts most beer drinkers from the Macros to the Micros. Next, you can turn the on to Sierra Nevada…

    • Jim
      December 11, 2009 at 6:17 pm #

      Good picks, Rob. I thought about Sam, but I wanted to see what happens if I push it a bit and expand beyond the brands the guests know. I’d be so happy if one person comes away from the party saying “I’ve gotta pick up some Tire Bite Ale!”

  4. Rob Crozier
    December 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm #

    I hear ya – its great when you make an impact even to only one person with pushing the envelope. Best of luck. I can’t to find out what you finally pick and how well it goes over.

  5. Jeff Schwartz
    December 11, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    I think you need to push it a bit. As much as you want to try and make an impact on someone – you also don’t want anybody saying ‘ I thought you knew beers….’

    • Jim
      December 12, 2009 at 2:35 am #

      That’s a pretty insightful, Jeff. Now that I think about it, that thought was playing in the back of head when I was picking.

  6. Jim
    December 13, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    Well things went well last night indeed. Many folks enjoyed the mixed packs of Smuttynose and Flying Dog I supplied, and there was enough left over for me to get a taste as well (I never drink at company functions).

    My beer was dented the deepest, followed closely by the Miller Lite and then the barely touched Heinekken. All in all a good night for beer.

    I also received a great gift from my boss which might change things up a bit on the site. More to come…

  7. December 13, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Good to hear! My company party is this week in the lunchroom! Let me know if you ever have any openings @ your place!!!

    PS – You should have check our post on ‘Best Beer For Beginners” there were a lot of good suggestions in the comments (I think you made some too) but its hard to go wrong with those mixer packs like you did.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Jim
      December 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

      At least your lunchroom party is happening on work time, right?

      I’m working through some of the “leftovers” now, and so far the Smuttynose brews are far outclassing Flying Dog.

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