Nix the champagne and ring in a hoppy new year with beer

National Public Radio recently reported that Americans aren’t buying French bubbly the way they used to, and some of it is even being sent back to France. That’s not too surprising. Given the state of the economy and the number of people who are out of work, paying more than $50 for a classy French champagne borders on extravagance.
For that kind of money, New Year’s revelers can quaff some excellent beer. According to, “One of the newest and most interesting styles of beer, the Bière de Champagne has much potential within the beer industry as a top-shelf crossover beer.” Primarily brewed in Belgium, biere de champagne is ale that goes through a lengthy maturation process and is sometimes aged in caves in France’s Champagne region before being put through the “methode de champenoise” process of remuage and degorgement to remove yeast from the bottle. These ales look like champagne, pop and fizz like champagne, and like French bubbly are best served chilled in flute glasses.
Whole Foods in San Francisco sells DeuS made by Brouwerij Bosteels of Belgium for $32.99. Other biere de champagne to consider are Malheur Bière Brut (Brut Reserve) from Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV and Bush Prestige from Brasserie Dubuisson Frères sprl.
Another option could be to get hoppy with some of the fine India pale ales and double IPAs that are available in California. A few to consider are: Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, Racer 5 and Red Rocket from Bear Republic, Valley Brewing’s IPA and Uberhoppy, Stone IPA and Ruination, Drake’s IPA, AleSmith IPA and YuleSmith, and many others. All would ring in a very hoppy new year at a fraction of the price of good champagne.
Or you could enjoy a seasonal winter warmer, like a beautiful magnum of Anchor’s excellent Our Special Ale ($14.99 at BevMo), welcome the new year with Samuel Smith’s subtle yet enticing Winter Welcome Ale, or quaff one of my seasonal favorites, Deschutes Jubelale.

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