It’s December, which means it’s officially okay to start the Christmas season. Target has been decorating and selling for Christmas since the stroke of midnight November 1, but now that we’re done with Thanksgiving, it’s Christmas time. As part of America’s Christmas tradition, our culture embraces quintessential Christmas films: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and the one and only “A Christmas Story.”
Made in 1983, “A Christmas Story,” written by comedy legend Jean Shepard, wasn’t a smashing box office success that stayed in the theaters for months. Slowly but surely, however, it worked its way into the fabric of the American Christmas experience. The story of Ralphie, a nine-year-old boy who desperately wants “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle,” “A Christmas Story” doesn’t tell the idyllic story that many Christmas movies do. Instead, it illustrates what an average middle-America, middle-class family experiences during the Christmas holiday.
Everyone at some point in his or her childhood can relate to Ralphie’s predicament. You wanted Santa to bring you something that your parents thought was ridiculous. Whether that was roller blades, a skateboard, or a BB gun like Ralphie, we’ve all been there. That’s why this movie is so relatable, and so enduring more than 30 years later.
“A Christmas Story” is such a staple of the American holiday season that in 1997, Turner Broadcasting’s TNT or TBS networks began running “24 Hours of ‘A Christmas Story.’” All day long on Christmas Eve and all day long on Christmas Day, you can turn on the TV and catch “A Christmas Story.” When the screaming kids have finally gone to sleep, and you’re done with all your wrapping, you can sit down and catch a true American classic that will let you unwind, make you laugh, and remind you of the Christmas frustration of kids everywhere.
When you sit down to watch the movie, grab a beer. It will undoubtedly help you relax. Christmas is stressful, especially as a parent. You can see this in the character of “the Old Man” in Ralphie’s story. His father is always trying to balance a battle against his angry furnace, the neighbor’s wild and hungry dogs, and the stress of balancing life with his kids and his job.
In the mid-twentieth-century, middle-America setting of “A Christmas Story,” “the Old Man” probably drank some pretty boring beer to relax at the end of a long day. You, my friends, have many more options. There are plenty of Christmas beers, and we’ll get into them in the coming weeks, but there is one you just can’t pass up if you’re a fan of “A Christmas Story” (and let’s admit, you all are).
Karbach Brewing Company out of Houston makes a beer called Yule Shoot Your Eye Out. With a wonderful reference to the classic line from “A Christmas Story,” the gang at Karbach take it one step further with a representation of the famous leg lamp on the can.
In what is one of the funniest scenes in the film, Ralphie’s father gets a fragile shipping crate delivered to the house. Upon opening it, we see that “the Old Man” won “a major award,” a lamp consisting of a stockinged woman’s leg with a black high-heeled shoe, and gaudy shade on top. Thanks to the wonders of capitalism you can own a replica of that lamp, perfect for… well, perfect to put on a beer can.
Karbach’s “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out” is a dark ale brewed with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, ginger, nutmeg, and orange peel. It makes for a nice holiday flavor without being overwhelming, as some Christmas beers can be. This beer is limited to just November and December availability, so you’ve gotta get it while you can.
This ale pours a deep, rich, dark brown, with a white foamy head that reminds you of the Christmas snow Ralphie’s brother was so overly prepared for in his super thick, hard-to-move-in snowsuit. You can taste the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice when you first sip it. Then the sweet roasted malts and slight cocoa flavor come through before a spicy ginger bite finishes out the beer. The 8 percent ABV means it packs a punch, but that really compliments the spiciness of the beer.
Yule Shoot Your Eye Out is the perfect way to enjoy a cold Christmas day, cuddled up on the couch watching “A Christmas Story.” Just remember the lesson that Flick so tragically learned: don’t touch your tongue to the flag pole, because it will stick. Cheers!