In the springtime, we know that God loves us when the first flowers lurch forth from the thawing tundra. Each autumn that love is reaffirmed when the Great Lakes Brewing Company rolls its first kegs of Christmas Ale into watering holes around town.
It's hard to say at what point our collective joy over Christmas Ale turned into a dopey, woozy frenzy each year. But there's no denying we've captured magic in a bottle the likes of which the world has never known.
Here now is our celebration of Cleveland's finest new tradition: The seasonal pursuit of Lady Christmas Ale, and the sledgehammer she wields in her wake.
Our first adventure comes courtesy of Robert Daunch, who celebrated the convergence of Daylight Savings Time and Christmas Ale's arrival by devouring the sweet nectar for an additional hour one recent weekend...
I went home and crashed in bed, thought I was dreaming that I got out of bed, walked out of the master bedroom and down the hall to the guest bathroom, where I opened the shower curtain, climbed in, and laid down. I woke sometime later in my underwear, freezing, curled up in a fetal position in the tub. I somehow got back to bed and woke up thinking I had dreamt it. Nope, it happened.
Christmas Ale 1, Robert Daunch 0. I look forward to the rematch.
December 23rd was my 23rd birthday. You see, I'm what people call a "Christmas baby," so of course it's fitting that around my birthday I would choose to drink Christmas Ale. The drinks kept coming to me at the bar, I was with my best friends and I don't remember paying for a thing... how could I turn it down? Hours went by and many Christmas Ales were consumed. It was time to get out of the bar before things got worse.
Lucky for me, we had a designated driver and were driven to a nearby friend's house where we would spend the night. This friend's house was and always is spotless from top to bottom. The kind of place where the toothbrush is always put back perfectly into the toothbrush holder. It wasn't long before it hit me. I sprinted upstairs to the bathroom, but the door was locked. The mental anguish from the locked door made it even worse, and before I knew it, I painted his walls and his carpet in the most beautiful color of Christmas Ale. Before passing out, I managed to get out the words 'Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!!' I think Santa brought my friend a steam cleaner.
— Justin Waite
I really do not want to admit all of this, but I really feel the need to tell my story. I was lucky enough to attend the Browns-Bills game in 2007, which everyone knows as the "Snow Bowl." I had a few beverages at the game and then we decided to go to a downtown establishment to celebrate the win. I subsequently ordered somewhere between two and eight Christmas Ales.
From there, I know I was in a limo. I became very sad when I had to give up half of my last Christmas Ale when it was time to go. I remember falling into my table but catching my lamp before it broke. I remember my bloody nose and waking up with a black eye. The moral of my story is Christmas Ale = black eye. Don't worry though: I'm enjoying my first one of the season right now. Cheers!
— Julie Rugh
My Christmas Ale horror story goes back to November of 2006, when the No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes were about to play the No. 2 ranked team from up north. Kickoff was scheduled for 3:30 p.m., so my friends and I made the wise decision to meet at an area bar in Eastlake at 1 for lunch.
Well, Christmas Ale had just come out a few weeks before, so we decided to start ordering pitchers of Ale. By the time there was a moment of silence for Bo Schembechler, the beloved coach from Michigan, my buddy — highly inebriated — went up and shouted in the ears of the only two people in the bar wearing Michigan clothes. About a half-hour later, when Beanie Wells broke a 52-yard touchdown run, my buddy then runs around the bar giving everyone high-fives, until he decides to head-butt someone for no reason. The best part, besides Ohio State winning the game and our buddy not getting arrested, was probably our $400 bar tab.
Thanks, Christmas Ale!
— Chad Malkamaki
At a Halloween Party, I made the monumentally poor choice of playing beer pong with Christmas Ale. I had a blast for about 40 minutes, then spent the rest of the night in the bathroom — the bathroom at someone else's house, at a party full of strangers. So classy.
— Jim Bradford