I believe in Santa Claus—well, at least the spirit of Santa Claus. Since I’m a 36-year-old father of two little kids, Santa is still a fixture of our Christmas tradition. Each year we make the trek to the mall so my kids can see the jolly fat man for himself.
Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, whatever you call him, the man embodies the giving spirt of the Christmas season, or at least he’s supposed to. Today’s Santa is an amalgamation of all of those identities, and more. Our modern version is dressed in red, with a white beard and plump belly, and bellows a jolly “Ho, ho, ho!” We owe a lot of that to Coca-Cola for popularizing this modern Santa with widespread Christmas advertisements beginning in the 1930s.
It’s hard for me to pick my favorite portrayal of Santa Claus in popular culture. Sir Richard Attenborough nails it in the 1994 version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” Tim Allen’s reluctant Santa in “The Santa Clause” is pretty funny, and some part of you just has to love Billy Bob Thornton’s “Bad Santa.”
Just after Thanksgiving, both my kids get together and write Santa a letter. They’re pretty simple. My son always asks for Santa to bake him a cake, usually asks for new pajamas, and then just a toy or two. My daughter isn’t much more demanding than he is, but she always does it with more gusto, because she’s a pistol. Thankfully their sparse requests make Christmas morning pretty easy in our house. Santa will never bring my kids a bike. I’m not dealing with that mess at 2 a.m.
This Christmas I’m going to ask for Santa’s Private Reserve Ale from Rogue Brewing Company. This hoppy red ale is a great pairing for your Christmas lamb roast, and the inevitable late-night wrapping.
Santa’s Private Reserve Ale pours a reddish-copper color like some of the ornaments hanging on your tree, and has a nice small white head. Its hoppy flavor is wrapped in some roasty malts and what Rogue describes as a “balanced spruce finish.” Some Christmas beers are spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and other holiday spices. This is not one of those, and that’s absolutely fine with me.
This beer also the perfect fuel for that last-minute Christmas shopping. All the men out there know what I’m talking about. Christmas Eve at the mall is all guys. We’re running around, pushing past each other for that last Lego set our kids want, or the perfume we’ve been meaning to buy our wives for months, or the book we’re sure someone in your family will want under the tree. Well, when you get home from that exhausting trip, have one (or two) of these.
My wife has always been creeped out by Santa. Something about a guy in the North Pole who watches over you all year to know if you’re on the naughty or nice list, then sneaks into your house while you’re asleep to leave you packages and treats, drives her nuts. I like to think about the good aspects of Santa Claus: his giving nature, roots as a saint, and the wonder and amazement kids feel each Christmas Eve.
This year I want Santa Claus to leave me a six-pack of Santa’s Private Reserve Ale. Have a few yourself, and you’ll also hope he swings by Rogue Brewing on his way to your house this Christmas Eve. Cheers!