Whether weighing heavily on the mantelpiece of expectation or lying lumpy on the lower legs of early morning anticipation, Christmas stockings seldom match up to the hype caused by their mysterious midnight arrival.
Rather than pad them out with some chestnuts, a Satsuma, a gold chocolate coin or two, another satsuma, some socks and another satsuma again – oh and some more chestnuts – slide some sexy cans of quality ‘craft’ beer or cider down there instead.
No longer considered the village idiot of vessels synonymous with bland beer, the aluminium can has cemented its reputation among cutting-edge craft brewers as the most reliable receptacle in which to house their high quality hooch.
Just as winemakers overcame scepticism of the screwcap or ‘Stelvin closure’ with some wonderful wines, brewers (and certain cidermakers) are changing perceptions of canned beer by encasing their finest endeavours in aluminium.
Why? Because it’s better for the beer. Cans keep beer consistently fresh and flavoursome for longer by cold-shouldering its two arch-enemies – namely oxygen and light.
Brewers abhor oxygen in their beer and do everything they can to keep it out. It creates stale notes and unwelcome flavours like wet cardboard, lipstick and leather. Cans are very competent in keeping oxygen out.
They also don’t let light in. We’ve looked into it, quite literally, and we can confirm that it’s very dark inside a beer can. Crucially, cans are completely impermeable to ruinous rays of UV light which, when they hit hops in beer, unleash an unpleasant aroma that white-coated boffins call MBT, ‘3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol’ or, more colloquially, “skunk-like”.
So-called because of its similarity to the reeking stench sprayed from the anal glands of self-protective skunks. This is not something brewers tend to put on their bottle labels but, if they’re stuck to clear or green glass bottles which offer little protection to the harmful effects of light, perhaps they should.
What makes the case for cans even more compelling is that they don’t break, they’re lighter and easier to transport, entirely recyclable and thus more environmentally friendly and, let’s face it, they look a lot sexier too.
So here are some cracking canned craft beer (and a cider) to stuff down your stockings…
Fourpure Session IPA, 4.8%
One of a number of talented brewers based in Bermondsey, Fourpure has furnished this dangerously drinkable India Pale Ale with some phenomenally fresh hop favours – citrus, grepfruit, pine and a clipped clean-lined bitterness. £2.25, www.beermerchants.com, 33cl
Hobo East Coast Cyder, 5.1%
Made from a selection of cooking and eating apples: bramley, gala, cox, russet and jonagold, this magnifcent medium-dry, delicately floral Suffolk cider is lighter, racier and more drinkable than some of the, albeit fine, heavily bittersweet ciders of the west. £1.75, www.ocado.com, 33cl
Verdant “Even Sharks Need Water”
This small-batch Cornish craft brewer, which specialises in hazy and unfined ales, has excelled with this succulent, spritzy and citrusy American-style IPA absolutely filled with aromatic hops. A perfect Boxing Day beer with a cold turkey sandwich and stuffing. £2.99 www.honestbrew.co.uk, 33cl
The Thinking Drinkers will be providing audiences with five free drinks during performances of their acclaimed comedy show Around the World in 80 Drinks at London’s Museum of Comedy until December 23. For tickets head to www.museumofcomedy.com