That, boys and girls, is called a teaser title. Are we saving the world through beer? No. However, we are making a difference in our world. Allow me to explain.

Through all the years and beers, I have developed a fantastic beer community, as have many of you. These people are my tribe … they know my preferences, my favorites, and often know better than I do what I’m going to want next. Two of these guys in particular are the ones I refer to as my Beer Bros. This bond has developed through mutual business interests, lots of travel, tremendous beer sharing, and the subject of this article … fundraising beer tasting sessions.

Kill shot from 2021

Seven years ago, we developed an idea of offering attendees of an annual conference an optional conference session designed to help people learn how to taste and enjoy a variety of craft beer. We really didn’t know what to expect, but knowing the audience, we figured we could sell out our 25-person session and raise a few dollars for the Foundation. We had no idea what we just created …

A few days later, the conference planner let us know that the session had already sold out and asked if we’d host a second one. Yes, please. Here are the relatively simplistic details of the event:

  • we promise 3-4 samples of at least 6 craft beers in a one-hour session
  • we instruct everyone on how to properly taste beer using all the senses (except hearing): sight, smell, mouthfeel, taste
  • with each beer, we’ll give insights on the style, the beer, and the brewery
  • all beers are donated from breweries or a local community representative
  • we have 3-4 sponsors at each event
  • all other costs are covered by the three Bros so that 100% of all revenue goes to the Foundation
  • at each session, we bring some bombers from our private stashes and auction that bag off.
  • but wait, there’s more! On the last day of the conference, we auction ourselves off to do a beertasting session for the winning bidder

Results? You Want Results?

Year 1 was more successful than we could have imagined. And so, as you might guess, we were invited back for year 2 … and 3 …

We have just finished year 7 of this amazing journey and have served over 80 beers (we have never repeated a beer in seven years) to a total of nearly 400 session attendees. Most importantly, we’ve raised over $40,000 for the Foundation. Reminder … this is all just about sampling and enjoying great craft beer with our friends and peers – and we’ve raised a tremendous amount of money for a fantastic cause. Maybe we are saving the world.

Unintended Consequences

One thing we didn’t plan on was what has become the most powerful part of the entire adventure. I may have failed to mention that these sessions are the opening session of the conference. What we have learned is that this is the world’s greatest icebreaker/welcome wagon for an event. Imagine walking into a new conference, not knowing a soul; it can be a challenging and daunting endeavor, unless you’re a moron like me who will talk to anyone anywhere.

These sessions provide a shared experience in a relatively intimate environment. For the remainder of the conference, Mr. and or Mrs. First-Timer will see people that they met or saw in the tasting and have a very easy intro into a conversation.

The ultimate opening to the conference + unique networking opportunity + fundraising for a great cause + a nearly endless lineup of great craft beer. Are you ready for us to come host a session for you?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

A fat dude smoking a pipe breaks into millions of homes every year, stealing milk and cookies, and leaving dirty coal behind for kids he deems ‘naughty.’ But at the same time, he plays favorites by giving supposedly ‘nice’ kids toys and other fun stuff. I could have a field day dissecting all of this nonsense, but I start by addressing this awful concept of leaving milk and cookies out all night. Does anyone really think that Santa wants to slurp down gallons of milk that’s been sitting out so long that it’s room temperature and maybe compromised? Gross. I think it’s time we start leaving a nice Belgian beer out for ole St. Nick. A delicious dubbel would be a great treat waiting for him at the bottom of the chimney. Let’s make it happen, people.

So, in proposing a change to long-held Christmas traditions, I started thinking about some of the songs we sing, too. I’m a sucker for good, quality Christmas music. But I think we could probably jazz up some of the titles, don’t you? Russ and I did some beerstorming (brainstorming while drinking beer) and came up with these soon-to-be holiday favorites:

Original song: I Wonder As I Wander
New title: I Wonder As I Wander … in downtown Asheville

Original song: Mele Kalikimaka
New title: Gimme Kalik and nachos

Original song: (I’m Dreaming of a) White Christmas
New title: (I’m Dreaming of a) Wit Christmas

Original song: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
New title: It’s Beginning to Taste a Lot Like Christmas

Original song: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
New title: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Alcoholic

Original song: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
New title: I Saw Mommy Drinking White Claw

Original song: O Little Town of Bethlehem
New title: O Little Town of Grand Rapids

Original song: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
New title: I Drank Some Bells on Christmas Day

Original song: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
New title: I Want a Kegerator for Christmas

Original song: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
New title: I’ll Be Drunk for Christmas

Original song: O Holy Night
New title: Nothing else. I refuse to mess with this one.

Original song: Holly Jolly Christmas
New title: Hoppy Jolly Christmas

Original song: Blue Christmas
New title: Huge Guinness

Original song: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
New title: It’s the Most Wonderful Time For a Beer

Original song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
New title: Have Yourself a Frosty Little Beverage

Original song: Where Are You Christmas?
New title: Where Are You Barkeep?

Original song: Frosty the Snowman
New title: Frosty the Beer Mug

Original song: I Saw Three Ships
New title: I Drank Three Pints

Ok … now it’s your turn. Drop some of your ideas in the chat below!


Note: I didn’t touch the 12 Days of Christmas, because the McKenzie Brothers already did that to perfection:

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Turkey Day 2020 will be here soon. So, before you head out for your stock-the-fridge weekend shopping trip, we wanted to add to your list. Instead of waking up on Thanksgiving morning to fry your turkey and grabbing ‘whatever is in the fridge,’ we thought we’d offer a list of beers that pair well with some traditional Thanksgiving foods. Disclaimer: if you’re drinking craft beer with friends and family, watching football, giving thanks, and eating way too much food – you’re already winning. There’s really not a wrong beer choice. But if you’d like to get all snobby and beer nerd-y with your selections, here are some options for you.


This is obviously the star of the show, and you want it to remain that way. You need to find a beer that won’t overpower the turkey (and gravy). You need something that can cut through the fat of the turkey skin and gravy. We recommend a good, dry, bubbly saison. If you can find one that’s been aged in oak … bonus points. We recommend Monday Night Barrel Farm Blend #2. Saison + grisette + Brett gives a great and fruit-forward combination of flavor that will dance nicely with the turkey.

Honey-Glazed Ham

Yes, we all know the name of the store where you’re going to get it, but I’ll stay general and say honey-glazed ham.
Playing Robin to the turkey’s Batman, honey-glazed ham finds its way onto many tables this time of year. The glaze on the ham brings a level of sweetness that shouldn’t be overlooked. A honey-glazed ham also brings some some salt to the party, so a good quality hefeweizen is the perfect way to balance it all out. Arches Queens Weiss is a very nicely-balanced beer that continues to turn heads in the beer snob world. Pro tip: if you want to stick to just one beer throughout the meal, this one (or any good hefe) will likely be your best bet.


First things first – it’s dressing, not stuffing. If you want stuffing, hop in the car and drive about 8 hours north. We do dressing in the south.
Ok – back to beer stuff. Dressing is one of my favorites, and it has the backbone to stand up to heartier flavors. The spices in it are a great compliment to one of the world’s finest beer styles – the winter warmer. A traditional winter warmer does not have spice added to it, but I love those that add a slight kick of winter spice … clove, nutmeg, cinnamon. Every year I look forward to the release of Anchor Christmas Ale. The recipe is always slightly different (45 years and counting) and I can’t wait to get my hands on some this year!

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole – that delicious scoop of gooey-yummy covered in the crunchy fried onions. YES! There is a great pile of flavor in that sinful concoction, so once again we need to find something that pairs nicely with it without detracting from the casserole. Also – cream of mushroom soup adds a heft to the dish, so a lighter-bodied beer works well here. I like Creature Comforts Table Beer does the trick. It’s flavorful but super light (at only 4.2%.) It’s going to compliment the casserole without attacking the taste buds.

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

Sweet, sweet, sweet. This dish might as well be dessert. The sweet potatoes already carry plenty of sweetness, and then you added slightly melted marshmallows on top … stop it. You need a beer here to completely counteract all that sweet. We go with a hop-forward IPA as the yin to the sweet potatoes’ yang. Think of this as the Thanksgiving version of salty vs. sweet – just like when you go to Wendy’s and get a Frosty and french fries and they taste so good as compliments to each other. There are so many great ones to choose from, but today we’ll go with Wild Leap Coast West Double IPA. It has a strong hop flavor, but it’s not over-the-top with bitterness (only 49 IBUs). The best part is – it runs at 10% which makes listening to the same story from your drUncle all that more palatable.

Pumpkin Pie

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without pumpkin pie. Winter spices plus sweetness give this one a pretty powerful taste, and one that needs a strong beer to stand up next to it. You need to find something that packs some punch, but won’t be too overpowering. We think a good porter has the perfect combination of roastiness and intensity to not only compliment, but actually enhance the flavor of the pie. Printers Everyday Black, roasty and not too heavy, will be a great buddy with your dessert. (Side note: Printers has a very cool story – totally worth a visit!)


And to cap it off, because getting through all of the dishes (or being forced to watching Detroit Lions football) can be not-so-fun, you might need one more to finish the day in style. What better way to cap it than with a super heavy barleywine or quadrupel? If you’re looking for a barleywine, head over to Dry County for Damn It All! At 11.5%, combined with all of the tryptophan in the turkey, you’ll be sure to be asleep on the couch before the Steelers kick off. If it’s quadrupel you’re after – grab some Wild Heaven Eschaton. This one gets bonus point for bringing in the holiday spices you’ve already been having all day. This one is always one of the highlights of my year!


Happy Turkey, everyone!!Let us know what YOU’LL be having on Thursday.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Actually, don’t. I’ll explain.

Turns out, Robert Matthew Van Winkle was way ahead of his time, or he was a closet craft beer aficionado in the late 1980s. Better known as Vanilla Ice, Van Winkle once penned the words to “Ice Ice Baby” and followed those same words in the chorus with ‘too cold, too cold.’ And that’s what leads us into today’s discussion.

Craft beer snob before his time …

You’ve been there before. You’ve been asked the question. And you’ve probably said yes at times (especially when it’s in the middle of a hot summer’s day and you need something refreshing.) I’m referring to the question from the bartender when you order a bottle of beer …. “Do you want a frozen mug with that?” On the surface, the question sounds innocuous enough. Cold beer + cold mug = colder beer and summer refreshment. But there’s a lot more to it than that. In short, a frozen mug kills the beer. I won’t get too science-y, but …

What happens to beer when it goes into a frozen mug?

  • Generally, a frozen mug isn’t super clean. Ice particles can grab hold of the sides of the glass … and then all kinds of gross stuff can stick to the ice particles. No bueno. Unless the glass is first rinsed before serving, you’re probably getting a dirty glass.
  • Frozen beer can make the protein in beer basically fall out of the solution and create a think skin on the top of the beer. You’ve probably seen this before. <Sarcasm> Shout out to Heineken who has embraced this phenomenon and promoted it as a sign of super cold beer. </Sarcasm>.
  • CO2 can separate from the beer. And what does that give us? FLAT beer. Again – no bueno!
  • Finally, if you’re drinking a beer between 30-40 degrees, you probably can’t taste it. Liquids that cold basically numb your palate and mask or altogether eliminate the flavor. And maybe that’s a good thing?!
    Note: the Homebrewers Association only recommends that one style of beer be served under 40 degrees. Any guesses? “American Mainstream Light Lagers.” Yes, that’s it’s own style apparently.

Bottom line here is that a frozen mug changes the nature and flavor (and maybe even texture) of the beer and is frowned upon. Beer snobs of the world will tell you not to do it. And they’ll scoff at a bartender who offers one. So, with all of this information readily available, why do bars still do it? Most people on the planet see it as the best way to get beer into the gullet. The public wants it – the market offers it. It’s just that simple.

At the end of the day, who cares? You do you. If you find yourself rollin’ in a 5.0 with the ragtop down so your hair can blow and need a super cold beer in a frozen mug? Have at it! You deserve that flat, flavorless, ice cube called American Mainstream Light Lager!

Word to your mother.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Not much for you today.  I just want you to sit back with friends, family or self and enjoy a cold American beer.  October 27 is National American Beer Day!

Comment below with your beer of choice on this fine Friday afternoon.  I’ll soon pop open a fantastic Dogfish Head seasonal choice … Punkin.  I won’t go into details just yet because of a future post on seasonally, specifically Oktoberfest and pumpkin-related offerings.  But this is probably my favorite pumpkin beer.  Great flavor you expect from Dogfish Head without an overpowering amount of pumpkin.

For a fun view of the history of pumpkins and pumpkin beer in America, head on over to Many Eats to see the tremendous research they’ve put together.

Enjoy National American Beer Day.  What a YOU having tonight?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington