Prairie Christmas Bomb x Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Songs
Drink: Christmas Bomb – Prairie Artisan Ales
Song: Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Songs – Perry Como (1946)
Snow is falling, the fireplace is going, the chunky sweater is on, the lights are up, (most of) the shopping is done, how’s about a drink and a song? Christmas is the perfect time to wax nostalgic for a softer, sweeter time. Even if you weren’t around for those times. Nothing helps you reach those warm and fuzzies like a classic Holiday album and a boozy beverage to melt the music into your brain. Tonight I am spinning a heap of Christmas classics crooned by Perry Como, who looks and sounds like someone your granddad was probably buddies with after the war. Speaking of the war, this album was first released in 1946, about a year after World War II ended. There were still a wide range of staggeringly strong emotions floating around. Families were reunited or they weren’t and Christmas can make that feeling all the more difficult. People needed a little bit of something warm a familiar and this album plays like a musical wool blanket. The longer you sit with it, the warmer it gets.
The album opens up with “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” a straight reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem with a bit of background music. You know right away you’re in for straightforward Christmas cookies with a drop of anise. Como’s voice is big and powerful while still feeling like he is sitting in your living room next to the fireplace, eggnog in hand, singing a few tunes between stories. The album continues with standards like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”. It’s time to open that beer.
Prairie Artisan Ales, out of Oklahoma, styles this seasonal by spicing up their year round beer, “Bomb” an Imperial Stout aged on Coffee, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Chilies, with cinnamon. You pour the beer out and it is as dark as the coal that’s going to be in my stocking this year. You only have to get it near you to pick up some nice forward notes of chocolate and earthy, spicy chilies. Really get your honker into a goblet and you get some mellow coffee, sweet vanilla, a punch of cinnamon, and almost no alcohol, even with this beer clocking in at a hefty 13%. Your first sip rushes all these adjuncts over you in the kindest way. You get coffee and dark chocolate with vanilla all silk and smooth. Then comes in cinnamon and those chilies that taste like the sound a fireplace makes when the wood snaps and cracks. A little bit of roast malt balances out and you are left with a touch of warm booze and warm spice. Nothing here is overpowering or pulling to hard in any one direction. Just flavors of winter with the feel of getting snowed in and being okay with that.
Perry moves onto maybe the warmest Holiday song of them all, “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You). It is slammed full of descriptors that make you feel like a kid full of wonder and excitement. A song that makes you see and smell and feel is a rare thing, and this may be one of the best versions, both classic and timeless. I can see my Dad getting out the step ladder to put up the star on the tree when this song plays. I can hear the click of Gramps’ ever-present pocket knife while he helps everyone open up their gifts. I can see the pure joy on my little brothers face as he opens up a new N64 game. This song is the auditory equivalent of seeing the few bites of the cookies and a few sips of the milk gone from the plate you left out for Santa. If you got a head start on your Christmas Bomb, you may be welling up a bit when this song hits. The other song that hits me like that is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. You jump from feeling like a kid to feeling like an adult with just a few notes. If you’ve ever been away from home around this time of year you get transported. This tune puts me on the back of an overnight Greyhound, slowly rolling through the snow. I can smell the pine tree candle I used to keep on my desk to make it at least smell like I was home. Como’s rendition is the version you wish you could sing. full of base, longing, and a straight brow. He sings it like a damn adult that wishes for nothing more than to be home but know that things may not shake out perfect this time for Ol’ Perr.
As the beer sits in the glass and warms up, the spices open up even more. cinnamon moves up fron and you get left with a nice spicy coffee on the finish. Prairie nails the adjunct stout. All these ingredients can get very off-putting if not used with a delicate hand. It may only be tablespoons per 100bbl to give it these mellow but present flavors. Props.
The album winds down with “White Christmas” in my version (it was added later when the song got hugely popular), and finishes with the upbeat and big band-y “Winter Wonderland”. Como get a little more silky and bouncy. It takes the album to a nice finish, you go from a kid, to a young adult, to a full grown person, enjoying new traditions with old and new friends. The characters in this song have fallen in love and are enjoying their first couple of winters together, making their own memories. You may not be able to go back again but you can always move forward and take those great memories with you, using them as guides to create new beautiful ones.
Sip & Spin.