DAVE CLARK COLUMN: 'SANTA DRINKS BEER?' Always take care of your empties on Christmas Eve

Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. You will enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove.

Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. You will enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove.

Frankenmuth Brewing

'Twas the night before Christmas with much work to do.

As soon as you finish, you can enjoy a brew.

Or two.

Explorers, take my hand and join me and the Ghost of Christmas Beers Past as we journey back to 2009...

Look there, through the misty, twisty clouds of time ... it's the humble Clark household in Canadian Lakes, Michigan.

It's about 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Outside, the yard is covered in inches of fresh, powdery snow, creating a picture-perfect Christmas landscape.

Christmas Town Ale

Brewer: Frankenmuth Brewery
Style: American spiced ale
ABV: 6%
Price: About $10-$12 a six-pack. 
Appearance: A deep amber. Give it a harder pour for a bigger head. 
Aroma: Roasted malt, sweet.
Mouthfeel: Crisp. Medium body.  
Taste: Sweet, toasted dark malts with American hops. It's a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that feature subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove. Delicious, complex, satisfying.
Pairs With: Cookies, Christmas goose and the Brian Setzer Orchestra's big band holiday tunes. 

Come with me. Let's peer through the picture window ... that's Jennifer and me smiling as we create an epic display of beautifully-wrapped presents under the brilliantly-decorated tree. We've just put 6-year-old Tyler, and his grandparents, to bed for the night.

It's time to get down to the business of Christmas.

I love this time. This is peak dad mode. This era of Dave is all about youth soccer coaching, Cub Scout volunteering, T-ball assistant coaching, dad heaven. Just look at me back then – baby-faced with no beard. It's a wonderful time in our lives. And of course, Jen and I have gone overboard. This is our baby boy – our only child – who has four sets of grandparents and an uncle and aunt who dote on him.

This kid is so loved ... and so spoiled. 

.

.

Dave Clark

The number of gifts he receives is over the top and – look close, right there, that expression – you can see it register on my face. That was me shaking my head affirmatively, happy that we had Tyler pick out a present for Toys For Tots. Tyler and I also did a shift as Salvation Army bell ringers. Doing things like that has helped keep our kid grounded and aware that he is a privileged person who has a responsibility to help others – which ends up being a much more important gift than that Star Wars LEGO playset sitting wrapped under that tree.

We are still working through the last of the leftovers (beer and snacks) from the holiday party we hosted. This seems like a good opportunity to "help clear out the fridge." I grab a bottle of BEER Inc., one or those mass-produced domestic light beers that you must make available at parties. I have a second unfulfilling drink before I turn in.

Christmas 2009: The year Santa Claus raided the beer fridge? 

Christmas 2009: The year Santa Claus raided the beer fridge? 

Dave Clark

RIGHT THERE! Did you catch that smile? That was me making a mental note to send all BEER Inc. leftovers home with the reporters next year! Ha! I set the two empties at the end of the kitchen table, pleased with my idea. I'll put the empties in the recycling container before we go to bed.

Look at that, our last task before turning in for the night. You can see us putting out cookies and milk on the kitchen table.

We take a last look around our festive living room, pleased with our results. 

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night ... 

It's Christmas morning! Look, there we are, gathered around Tyler, basking in his excitement. His eyes are darting around the room, trying to take in the whole scene, all at once. 

Presents. Stockings. Santa's half-eaten cookie remains. More presents. 

His glance returns to the kitchen table.

Those cookie crumbs offered evidence that, indeed, Santa Claus had paused long enough to nosh on our offering to him. 

"DAD! LOOK! Santa drank some of your BEER!" he exclaimed. 

Look closely, there at the end of the table. It's the two empties that I forgot to deposit into the recycle bin.

As I try to respond —

"SANTA DRINKS BEER?!" Tyler exclaims, laughing in that slightly unhinged, hysterical giggle that all 6-year-olds have for a short, glorious time. Instead of correcting him, I'm too busy laughing at this ridiculous situation. I'm not usually at a loss for words. I eventually say something like, "It's too bad Santa doesn't have better taste in beer, there's better ones in the back of the fridge."

Let's pause for a moment and take in this scene one last time before we return to the present – Tyler is surveying the gifts under the tree, the dogs are lying in front of the fireplace, the grandparents have their hands clasped around mugs of coffee and Jen and I are hugging, appreciating this very merry Christmas. And those two damn beer bottles are still sitting at the end of the table ...

And ... we're back in Midland. What a lovely Christmas memory! Thanks for taking that journey with me.

We need to resolve something before we go. The Ghost of Christmas Beers Past keeps pestering me for a recommendation – what kind of beer would Santa drink? Before you get upset at the accusation that Santa imbibes, let me present Exhibit A: His giant belly. That is not the result of cookies alone. That is a beer belly. There are a couple of winter warmers, a few Guinness and probably some Cabin Fevers in there, for sure.

This year, when Tyler returns home from college and we put him to bed before Santa's arrival (WE NEVER TOLD HIM, so don't say anything), Jen and I will put out cookies for Santa, and I'm going to pour the jolly old elf a pint of Christmas Town ale, a wonderful seasonal selection from the masters at Frankenmuth Brewery. It has bold gingerbread cookie flavors and, at least for me, featured a pleasant egg nog aftertaste. 

Let's leave it here for this week, while I'm on a roll.

Happy holidays, friends; until next week... Sköll!