From the Bottle Collection: 3 Days Before Christmas Beer

One Bottle Collection beer for every day before Christmas. Rating system: not actually meant as a “tense” comment. All these beers either don’t exist anymore, or I tasted in the past. Hopefully, if not so hot before, they’re better now. If they do still exist. Or hopefully, if not better they’re as dead as the… Dickens.

Note: the ghosts have varied a bit over the various versions, but even Mr. Magoo’s version the Future was bleak. In the pictures chosen for this series the most visually pleasing ghost was Present.

Ghost of Christmas Present… remember him? Jolly, fun: the kind of guy you’d invite to a party for the season, and the kind of beer you could bring to a festive affair and not be totally laughed out of the room by festive beer geeks. That’s the best a beer gets in this series. Now Ghost of Christmas Past isn’t a great award. You can see from the picture he can be a bit of a grump. Probably from mediocre’ beer. And best not bring a Ghost of Christmas Past Beer to a beer geek festive affair. You’ll be the limp wet noodle of the party. A Ghost of Christmas Future beer? You remember that guy, right? If you want to be laughed at, have to bring most of your offering home and feel like you’ve just attended your own funeral instead of a party, bring a Ghost of Christmas Future beer. Some Ghost of Future Beer might best serve as embalming fluid.

Written by Ken Carman

Abita Festive Ale

Festive, why?

I used to love Abita Springs. In the early 90s I used to hang out at what was the brewery, now the pub, and have beer handed out to me from the back fridge. As the years went on they moved the brewery, and the bottling operation, and turned the cute downtown Abita Springs facility into a small capacity brewpub. At first the food was good and they had, one year, a high octane “Santa’s Helper” that kept me there way the hell too long. Not quite a barley wine, perhaps a strong, strong ale? If only they had bottled that.

This, however, matches much of Abita’s unremarkable line up since then.

Festive: a totally unremarkable ale that was, perhaps, a weak brown at best. Enough fizz, enough everything for a bland brown ale. And I hated to type it, but it’s true: that goes for most of the product line too. This was the grandfather of all the Emerald/Mississsippi/Louisiana breweries and they gave birth to so many breweries. Did the birthing poop them out, or did moving the main brewery down the road do that? They can do better. Currently they bottle an Abbey Ale that’s not too bad, and a very good 25th Anniversary beer, but still seem way to reluctant to upgrade their regular recipes. I understand: what sells is what sells. But at least try to compete a little more than one or two weak attempts?

The brew world is moving on. At least try to keep up with your kids Grandma Abita!

I think this is all because they have been through a series of brewers during all this time. Their first “child,” McGuires in Pensacola, has pretty much kept up the quality with a few minor glitches now and then. That’s because they had the same brewer for almost 20 years who developed consistency, but not afraid to improve recipes, or create new ones. Abita mostly hasn’t, and when they have the attempts have been mostly weak.

An easy to forget seasonal, just like the Ghost of Christmas Past, but the pleasing memories do remain.

Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with… The Bottle Collection.

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