by Eric Ginsburg

The supply of Great Lakes Christmas Ale started to dwindle first, which makes sense considering we opened the growler prior to the other five, before most people showed up. And, to be fair, this was a holiday party, so what did we expect?

When my girlfriend Kacie and I arrived with the beer and opened it not long after, Brian’s kids were already wailing on Guitar Hero in the basement, Mary still stood over the stove — readying mini ham biscuits, I believe — and most of the Triad City Beat family hadn’t made their way over yet.

Ours is a big team, especially considering the cramped size of our office. Several of the people behind this publication work remotely, but with their partners and a few kids in tow, plus a few outside near-and-dear friends coming, Brian and I struggled to anticipate our guests’ drinking habits.

We snagged a few boxes o’ wine — two reds and a white, just in case — and figured our publisher Allen and his partner would have plenty in reserve in case of emergency. We picked up some dark rum to add to the spiced hot apple cider that Allen would provide, and more than enough soda for the kids and sober adults who’d be in attendance.

But what should we do about beer?

Our first good move, which Brian deserves the credit for, was heading to Gate City Growlers, a bottle shop next to 1618 Wine Lounge on Greensboro’s Battleground Avenue with enough draft lines that I could actually choose between two sours. Brian is sober, but he put in his share of drinking times early in life, working behind the bar in New Orleans among other misadventures, and his nose proved to be enough to help guide our expedition.

We nabbed the two Triad options on draft — Foothills’ December IPA of the Month and Preyer’s new vanilla porter. With the ends of the beer spectrum set, we attempted to fill in the middle while pursuing variety, adding the Flying Circus hefeweizen from Check Six Brewing in Southport, NC, the Christmas Ale and the Sunnyvale Berliner Weiss sour beer from Deep River Brewing in Clayton, NC.

Brian and I hadn’t even showed up with an exact sense of how many 64-ounce growlers we needed, but considering the shop’s buy-one-get-one-half-off deal on Saturdays, we decided to round out these five with a sixth.

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Dick, our advertising foot soldier, loves hoppy beers, Brian said, and with a nudge from the guy working behind the bar towards a more expensive choice, we picked Wicked Weed’s popular Pernicious IPA, one of the only North Carolina beers to take home a gold or silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year.

It wasn’t clear until the Triad City Beat holiday party — celebrated on the seventh night of Hanukkah with Christmas and New Years looming — that we’d gone overboard. With the Pernicious quickly opened and left easily accessible on the bar top at our house party, Foothills’ IPA was overlooked.

And at 8.7 percent (compared to 7.6 for the Wicked Weed brew or just 4.7 for the Flying Circus), some people may have passed on it more intentionally. In our attempt at diversity of beers, I picked a sour that made at least one attendee pucker, and nobody ended up pouring a pint besides me.

It didn’t help that someone showed up with North Carolina spirits, including gin from Sutler’s and TOPO and Defiant whisky in addition to the rum we provided.

But I’m not complaining; I took the Deep River, Foothills and what little remained of the Preyer home. And when I brought the local IPA to a fish-fry Panthers-watching party the next day and the older crowd preferred Natural Ice, that was alright by me, too.

Visit Gate City Growlers at 1724 Battleground Ave., #103 (GSO) or find the business on Facebook.

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