Beer advent calendars are all over Twitter this year - it seems there's scarcely a small brewery or mail-order bottle shop that hasn't put one together, not to mention the bloggers working their way through them. The more restrained amongst them, such as the Beer O'Clock Show, won't start until the 20th, and open a bottle for each of the 12 days of Christmas. Some ambitious writers are well under way with a 24 bottle run - notably Mark Johnson, who has collected an impressive collection of all festive seasonals to work through (and, incidentally, these posts are a master class in tasting notes - superbly written).
I was lucky enough to enjoy a beer advent calendar last year. I didn't buy it, or assemble it myself - Sidony put it together for me. After a couple of months of all but swearing off beer so that I could actually afford to buy Christmas presents, the revelation of this collection was a practically religious moment. Here it is;
And it was a very tastefully selected calendar, too - all my favourite beers, some I had yet to try, and finishing up with some special bottles as the big day drew closer. Amazing as this was, I suggested that this year, we opted for more conventional calendars (I had also put together a gift-based calendar for Sidony last year). But there was still a surprise in store for me.
In January, we visited Bamberg. One of the many wonderful things about Bamberg, aside from the beer, is its love of tacky tourist merchandise. At the Schlenkerla tavern, the two tendencies collide in a merchandise stall in what looks like a converted broom cupboard selling everything from mini-kegs of Marzen to branded tote bags. On the 1st December, I was presented with this;
"Recognise that building?", Sidony asked. "Looks a bit like the Schlenkerla pub", I thought, but didn't say out loud. Except it is the Schlenkerla pub, and those masters of marketing have produced this pretty advent calendar with a tastefully illustrated Bamberg scene behind each door. I may not be able to drink it, but I'm still convinced that this is the best beery advent calendar doing the rounds this year.