Hops for the Holidays: how to channel your inner Scrooge this festive season

The older I get, the more I enjoy hosting parties as opposed to attending them.

The main reasons I prefer a shindig at my house are twofold: First, I can just wear my slippers. Perhaps it’s yet another symptom of progressing age but I’ve realized recently that the tedious task of putting on actual footwear can often feel like the worst part about being an adult human. Bending over? Tying things? No thanks. Having people to my house means I can keep my feet where they prefer to be: In deerskin, moccasin-style slip-ons.

Second, hosting the party at my house means that I am afforded access to all my preferred intoxicants and victuals. I’ll be honest, I can be a little bit snobby when it comes to the beverages I choose to consume. I’m willing to wager you are, too (you are, after all, reading a magazine about beer that you likely procured at a local brewery). And so, like me, you are almost certainly also a little concerned about the idea of an evening spent restricted to sipping whatever six-pack you happened to purchase on your way to a party or—worse—putting yourself at the mercy of your well-intentioned, Mill-Street Organic-serving friends.

Hosting the party yourself means you have handy access to your own day-to-day stock, as well as the more premium beer fridge in the basement, the really good stuff in your makeshift cellar, the liquor cabinet if the mood strikes, etc.

But, of course, therein lies the rub. Hosting at home guarantees my own access to good hooch but it also opens the door to the undesirable possibility that my guests might assume that they will be graced with the same luxury, which of course they are not. Indeed the one downside to hosting is that it means people might drink my beer.

Thankfully, over the years, I’ve learned ways to keep my guests from dipping into my stash and I’m here to pass that wisdom on to you.

Delay serving them at all

It’s not very scientific but it works. The less time your friends have your beer in their hands, the less of it they will drink. So simply take a long time to crack that first beer by finding ways to distract them and delay having to hand them that first drink. “You have to see what we’ve done in the garden this winter,” “Our neighbours’ inflatable holiday decorations can’t be missed,” etc.

This technique is especially effective if you have a spouse as a co-conspirator so that you can rotate duties. While one of you is running out the clock by playing tour guide, the other can feel free to nip to the kitchen for refreshment away from prying eyes.


Be stingy with the refills

Once you’ve actually served your guests, it becomes more difficult to ignore when they don’t have a drink. An empty glass at a party has a way of demanding attention, but there’s no reason you can’t turn that into negative attention. So when a guest has finished a beer and is looking haplessly at you for some sign you’ll refill it, it’s a great opportunity to make them feel shitty. Something like, “Woah Tim! Is there a hole in your glass?” or “Somebody was thirsty!” This will also signal to other guests that their normal-paced drinking won’t go unnoticed.

Once you’ve appropriately shamed someone for requesting a second beer, make sure you take your time filling the request. It helps to keep your beer some distance from the area where people will be congregating. Ignore the counter-intuitive instinct to set out a place with ice so that drinks are convenient to the party and under no circumstances should you tell people to serve themselves. That is a recipe for seriously depleted beer stocks. Instead, keep beer behind a closed-door—secluded in the kitchen is good, but somewhere like a basement or garage is ideal. This way, when you are gone, ostensibly getting refills, you might once again happily take the time to enjoy one of your own beers at a reasonable pace. Again, the less time your guests have beer in hand, the less they will drink.

Clean out the cellar

As effective as the above methods are, if you are like me and somewhat known for enjoying well-made beer, you will almost certainly be met at some point with a variation of, “You’re the beer guy, right?” or “Do you have any really fancy beer?”

And while being implored to crack open the good stuff might induce panic in the hearts of the good beer hoarders among us, this is actually a great opportunity: Open up the cellar and foist the shelf turds on your guests.

Indeed, under the guise of a “tasting,” you might happily employ a degree of ceremony and a few small glasses and seize the chance to unload the dusty and expired chocolate stouts and cranberry saisons that you stashed away with good intentions years ago but never got around to.

Most uninitiated people will politely sip your past-its-prime beer with nary a word, but you might get someone brave enough to voice their distaste with the undesirable beer you’ve foisted on them. This too is easily handled. If someone questions the quality of the over-aged swill you’re unloading on them, say something gentle like, “Yes, it’s a bit of an acquired taste,” or “You really have to have a refined palate to appreciate this.” If your guest persists, just woefully shake your head while you say, “You’re just not quite there yet.”

These tips should help you host an evening without your beer reserves taking too much damage but, of course, if the idea of underserving your guests is simply too much for you to take, there is always the option of swallowing your pride.

Before the party, don dark sunglasses and a hat and duck into the government liquor store. Find the least expensive option by volume and buy a case or two. Put it out on ice before your party and play it off as something of a joke as guests arrive. Say things like, “Isn’t this beer hilarious?” as you pour your guests another round.

Then just be sure to sneak off quietly when you nip down to the basement for the occasional real beer.

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