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Cheers to beer: Local brews that pair with any holiday gathering — morning or night!
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Cheers to beer: Local brews that pair with any holiday gathering — morning or night!

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If you think enjoying an ice-cold beer with a cinnamon roll bright and early on New Year's Day should be frowned upon, maybe you just haven’t found the right beer.

Thankfully, Bent River Brewing Company manager Lisa Masinda has. She asked some 30 people about their holiday traditions when it comes to food and drink, and has curated a beer map to guide you through your holiday celebrations, no matter what or when you’re eating.

“What I really was entertained by was that frequently people said, ‘We just start drinking in the morning,’ and I’m like, 'OK! Like, beer is breakfast,' " she said.

If you’re going to drink in the morning, though, you at least should do it right. And the good news is that “there’s some really nifty beers that are coming out or that are out right now around the area,” Masinda said.

Masinda first points to Radicle Soul, a brew by Radicle Effects Brewerks in Rock Island. It is described on its website as a two-tea-blend amber ale. In an email, Rich Nunez with Radicle told her that Radicle Soul is infused with chai and an herbal tea blend, and it features a mix of flavors, including cardamom, cinnamon, orange and lemongrass.

“Not everyone’s a coffee person in the morning; some people go with the tea,” Masinda said. “I feel like if you’re going to start drinking, start drinking there."

As the day progresses, she points to Krampusblüd Nordic Stout from Wake Brewing in Rock Island next.

“I mean, you got to kick it up a notch at some point,” she said. This dessert-style stout is brewed with Dark Matter Coffee (out of Chicago) and vanilla beans.

Then, as “people start showing up,” perhaps for a meal, “I’m going over here to amber,” she said, shuffling through some papers until she finds a list of some of Bent’s brews. She adds stars next to Bent’s ImMoortel Jams, an amber lager with a rich copper color, toasty and caramel notes and a semi-dry finish, according to the list. It’s great for “day drinking,” she said.

“And then, it’s time for dinner and sit down, and I would go with (a) tripel,” she said, pointing to Bent’s Trois Monks Tripel.

According to a post on Bent’s Instagram, Trois Monks features a mildly spicy flavor with a malty sweetness and a slightly boozy finish.

“It’s going to pair well with turkey — the turkey/ham kind of thing,” Masinda said.

Once dinner is over, “I would end my day with a saison,” Masinda said. She highlights Crawford Brew Works’ Crow Creek Cranberry Saison, which is a farmhouse ale with an American twist, according to an email Crawford’s general manager Deborah Davis sent to Masinda.

It’ll “make you forget how much turkey and stuffing you ate,” Davis told her.

These local beers are available on tap or to go at their respective breweries, some in cans or bottles and others by the growler.

When you’ve got a little bit of this and a little bit of that on hand, it offers a great opportunity to try new things, Masinda said. All of the beers she highlights are “easy-to-find styles,” she said, adding that the specific beers she refers to simply are “featured ones for the area.”

Because not all of these beers are available year-round, they can really add to any gathering and help to make “a special moment,” she said.

“Drinking is one of those social things,” she said. “You know how people attach the smells to memory? You know? Taste goes the same way.”

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