What are you drinking New Year’s Eve?

The brews with which San Diego Beer News contributors will toast 2021’s arrival

Special-occasion beers vary from person-to-person and make great substitutes for sparkling wine come the close of the year. As we close the book on 2020, a year that was undeniably challenging but also marked the arrival of San Diego Beer News, our team is sharing the beers that’ll be in our glasses and gullets come the first seconds of the New Year. We thank you for making our online resource a success and look forward to sharing even more with you moving forward. Until then we send you a big, heartfelt “cheers.” See you in 2021!

Colby Chandler | Community Oracle

I learned early on to follow the mantra of “drink what you like.” After toasting with many types of Champagne on New Year’s Eve, I always come back to liking one the most: Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. Usually on-sale for the holiday, it’s tight effervescence and balance between light sweetness and nuttiness make it a great palate cleanser after a night of pre-gaming with beer. The Pinot grapes add notes of East-Asian pear and a touch of Meyer lemon, while the three years of aging provides a light touch of almond. Not long after that epiphany, I learned that beer wort, taken out of the kettle during whirlpool, (settled, decanted and cooled then) mixed with cold Champagne, is a pretty good way to celebrate the end of a collaboration brew, too! 2020 has taught me that beards and masks suck, yet I still have a beard and I still wear a mask. Also, sous-vide cooking is a game-changer, and if I move dirt and play disc golf, my back hurts. I miss all my friends and am thankful for seeing the ones I have been able to see. Delivery from Costco is better than shopping in-person. I’ve never been so “busy” doing “nothing.” Apparently, you can only either drive 85 miles-per-hour or 55 miles-per-hour on the freeway now. My bidet has paid for itself and is officially the sixth member of the house. I recently learned that old friends that know beer don’t really work at crappy breweries. I found that out when I visited Jay Jones at the newly opened WestBrew in Vista and picked up some WestBrew Pils brewed by Head Brewer Cody Gagnon. I always promote drinking the beer that enhances the moment you are in. I will be cooking and pacing myself to stay up until 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. A lower-alcohol local lager made with pilsner malt, three great hops (Tettnanger, Amarillo and Hallertau Blanc) and fermented clean…that sounds like another moment-enhancing choice to welcome in 2021. 

Chris Leguizamon | Beer Education Columnist

To ring in the New Year, I always scrounge through the cellar for a beer that satisfies two requirements: it must represent an incredible trip of that year and it must be highly effervescent. This year I will be enjoying Arizona Wilderness Sonoran Prince, a mixed-culture sour ale aged in a French-oak fouder with Arizona peaches, which I picked up from a fantastic bottle shop in downtown Phoenix called The Theodore. Just like the making of this beer, this year has demanded all of us to have patience and a deep belief that the best has yet to come. Cheers to my San Diego Beer News family!”

Ian Cheeseman | Beer Raconteur & Opinion Columnist

In my heart, there is really only one beverage that the year 2020 merits: a tall, cool glass of strychnine. Of course, that’s not a totally honest answer. For one, finding locally crafted and independently brewed strychnine is much harder than you’d think. Secondly, despite the unrelenting efforts of COVID-19 to undo everything and everyone I care about, I somehow still possess a glimmer of hope that 2020 hasn’t managed to extinguish. That alone deserves celebration. The longest year on Earth deserves nothing short of the oldest beer in my cellar. I’ve been calling upon the fates to grant me a sufficiently special occasion to justify cracking our 2014 AleSmith Brewing Speedway Stout for the last year or two, but always found a reason to stay its execution. Those days are over. This year has bombarded me with reasons not to celebrate and I’m tired of it. Cracking this bottle is hedonism for hedonism’s sake and the fates can officially go pound sand. This beer also feels tonally appropriate for the simple reason that, against all odds, it has managed to persist. It survived all the moves, refrigeration failures and bumbling hands that I’ve thrown at it for years. It stands in defiance in a universe ruled by entropy that desperately wants it to shatter. I will carry its strength with me into 2021.

Brandon Hernández | Founder & Executive Editor

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so here goes. I have way too much rare, special, awesome beer that I should have opened a long, long time ago. That’s problem number one. Problem number two is my inner miser, which won’t allow any occasion to be significant enough to open some of the really cool beers I aimlessly hoard as a result. The biggest evidence of the above is my sour-beer fridge and its shelves crammed full of gueuzes. I love masterful lambic blends but rarely let myself enjoy them. Even in a pandemic year where I have been home nearly 300 days in a row and was able to convince myself I deserved to pop some really choice beer, those gueuzes have remained largely untouched. I have two New Year’s resolutions. In 2021, I’ll get down to a six-minute mile time on my daily run (my only time in the outside world) and drink way more gueuze. My efforts toward both goals will start December 31, when I sprint (masked and distanced) across my neighborhood, then raid that sour fridge. I intend to start off by enjoying my last bottle of 2013 The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze, which I feel is perhaps the most balanced and mellow vintage of that award-winning American gueuze. Next up will be 2018 Pure Project Brewing Lief, a funky, peppery, exquisite blending of ales spontaneously fermented each year during the Miramar brewery’s anniversary festivals. Last up is a gem I’ve been saving, 2010 Grote Dorst van’t Kasteel, a one-time-only marriage of 17 lambics blended at Castle Neufcour in Eizeringen in Belgium as part of a special lambic exhibition. It’s as rare as it sounds and, you know what…I’m worth it. We all are. May 2021 be the year of (finally) popping bottles!

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