Mark Haynie

Vernon Ogrodnek//////////////// Mark Haynie, beer columnist for At The Shore.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The twinkling lights, colorful decorations, the smell of the evergreen and chestnuts roasting, the sounds of Yuletide songs like “Samichlaus Is Coming To Town” and “Wit Christmas” … what??!! Well, it certainly shows what is dancing in my head, and it isn’t sugar plums! (I wonder if you can make beer with them?) The big beers are out there and ready to be enjoyed, so stock up for the holidays at your favorite local retailer or brewery.

Cape May Brewing recently released its Boughs of Barley 2018. This year it’s an imperial stout aged in second fill cognac barrels and a year in Scotch whiskey barrels. Get there before it’s gone! They also kicked off their annual food drive on November 16th, raising food and funds for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Each year, Cape May does their best to put a dent in the local shortage, so drop off your non-perishable food and necessities, particularly canned vegetables, pasta, rice, canned fruits, and canned proteins to help feed the less fortunate. For every eight items donated, you will earn a chance in a raffle for a $500 CMBC gift card. On Friday, Dec. 7th, fan-favorite Apple Bomb returns to the taps. Here is the company’s description: “The apple never falls far from the tree and Apple Bomb tastes like the apple fell right out of the tree and directly into your beer. We designed this brew to be an explosion of apple flavor in a well-balanced wheat beer, adding the apple-y goodness at the tail end of fermentation to retain a soft and gentle apple aroma. With its bready and biscuity malts balanced by the sharpness of the apples, Apple Bomb will be the apple of your eye!” And don’t miss CMBC’s annual holiday party on Friday, Dec. 21!

Hidden Sands in Egg Harbor Township will have two new beer launches this winter. The extremely popular Strawberry Wheat will take a break for the winter season and be replaced by Cranberry Wheat Ale. This refreshing wheat brew is slightly sweet with a mild-tart finish. It’s not to be missed this holiday season! The second new brew will be an imperial stout. With hints of chocolate and coffee and an abv of 8.5 percent, it’s guaranteed to keep you warm all winter long. Due to popular demand, the Pomegranate Sour will be back on-tap in early December. Adding a splash of pomegranate to the traditional Sand Blasted Sour, it will pucker you up for those holiday kisses.

A recent visit to Manafirkin in Manahawkin revealed an amazing list of beers, especially the Lairds Applejack barrel-aged Oh Dear Gourd imperial pumpkin ale. Not sure how long it will last, but all the selections there were very good and definitely worth a trip. Gather your friends, don your most hideous sweater on Friday, Dec. 21 and head here for their second annual ugly sweater party.

Oyster Creek in Waretown is brewing up their “radioactive” beers to give the holidays that special “glow”. HALFLife Hefeweizen, brewed with cranberries and beach plums and REACTORcore, an Apple Cider wheat, should still be available. Soon will debut NUCLEARwinter, a dark Christmas ale spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Celebrate New Years with 2 Minutes 2 Midnight, a double dry-hopped Double IPA that is guaranteed to keep you up after midnight!

Not far away in Beach Haven, Ship Bottom will be canning up some of the favorites for the holidays. The very popular Baconator Stout (an amazing breakfast beer), Brut IPA, Sugar Cookie Ale, New Years Eve Barleywine and New Years Day Russian Imperial Stout will be available on Monday, Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1, respectively.

Have a safe holiday season!!

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