Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ölmönger Special: Destroying beer advent calendars

To make it clear from the start: I don't hate Christmas or December. Christmas is a rare season of peace and solitude. Something that the Modern Man doesn't value the way he should. And December is a month. December is. I find it hard to actually hate things that just are and don't do anything: weather, time, distances and the mayors of Finnish cities.

But I hate Xmas. The commercial shit that runs over us from the end of September and starts a week-long preparation three months too early. People start the yearly (Russian?) gift roulette, overcrowd every shop, mall and supermarket and empty even the web shops from crap you don't know that even exists. In the Xmas rush people actually show more hate towards each other than during the rest of the year altogether, fighting over the last piece of whatever is the G.I. Joe action figure, PS4 game, must-have knick-knack in cooking or other completely useless hit item this Xmas. And it's peace we're celebrating, right?

But, in the morning of the 1st of December kids get to open the long anticipated first door of their advent calendar. In the simple and smart versions of calendars there are only season-related drawings and possibly short texts i.e. verses of poems or songs - no crappy toys, no cheap chocolate, no stupid lotteries. The idea of the calendar is to make kids prepare and get anticipated for the highlight of the season, maybe even the year. Calendars aren't supposed to be symbols of commercialization or simple-minded people's craving of material like they usually are.

It's exciting to wait for Christmas...
Anyway, whatever the advent calendars are like, they're fun for the children. But alas, some stupid motherfuckers have ruined the innocence probably with this kind of chain of anti-Heurekas: "Hey, the kids have fun with their calendars. We, adults, don't. But we don't care about toys or chocolate. Hey, there are seasonal beers. Yeah, we could smash the bottles on our heads... (Until this things were fine, but:) Or we could put 24 beers in a box. And have them randomly. Or in any order we like. Hey, but that would be... a beer advent calendar!" And so, as useless invention as life consults, mindfulness and virtual democracy was born once again.

Roughly divided, there are two kinds of beer calendars, do-it-yourself and commercial versions. The idea of a DIY calendar is simple: you have different beer bottles or cans, 24 altogether, you put them in order from 1 to 24 and then you pick one from the 1st of December until the Christmas Eve. If you select the 24 beers and put them in order by yourself, as they usually do, well... The element of surprise - you know what you get each day -  is kinda ruined, isn't it? You could get more surprised by going and picking a random bottle from the store each day. Just a thought about personal excitement, but never mind.

Of course you could have someone else select the beers or just put them in order for you. But then again, in the first case the beers could be nothing you actually wanted to have (as warm-up for the wife's or/and girlfriend's actual christmas gift, eh?) and in the second case at least the cinnamon-cardamom-spiced plum-pudding-flavoured sherry-barreled barley wine would come out the first Monday - not the last Saturday - and your Christmas would be ruined. Tricky, isn't it? You either know what you get or you get what you don't want. Well, it was you who chose to make an advent calendar, so life sucks and then you die, as they say.

The second type are the commercial beer advent calendars. Let's say from a web shop or a single brewery. For the web store a beer calendar is a handy way to get rid of the beers that are getting old in new year or represent the seasonal spiced shit that only sells for poor stupid bastards once a year. "But you get 24 beers in the price of 36. If you check the prices in January. But hey, only once a year we can charge idiotic prices for anything. They call it the Xmas industry, ya know?" The other option is that you buy a calendar from that dumb Swede... sorry, the Dane that walks around his flat naked or in underwear writing recipes for the monkeys who do all the brewing labour. That friend of yours, that Mikkel-whatever.

Anyway, you buy this calendar and savour one of that so-called-brewery's brews every day for 24 days in December. Every day until Christmas Eve you get a new one from Horse's Ass Sweat Brewery. Every frigging day. After a week you'd crave for something good. After two weeks you'd get happy for a can of Bud Light or Koff III behind the next door. If you wouldn't... Have you ever thought about watching the grass grow in summer? Or listening to alarm clock or your phone ringtone as the only noice you hear for a week? Damn, that would be life. I honestly envy the excitement you probably face every day. "But, hey, every beer is great if the label says Mikk..." And bollocks.

...especially when there would be a much cheaper 24-pack available.
The saddest thing is - once again - that there are beer bloggers who ruthlessly try to bring our holiday spirit down and turn the light of Christmas off in the middle of the darkest winter. They start their yearly series of Mr./Mrs. Pig Vomit's Blog Advent Calendar on the 1st of December and torture their readers with daily "I got this behind.../ With anxious excitement I opened.../ Oh, boy! Look what was in... the Nth door." Most of the brews presented are either crap or seasonal crap but every bottle or can gets a shitload of undeserved praise. The long shock therapy ends with mental crucifixion - "That's an Easter thing, not Christmas, you ignorant bastard!" - on Christmas eve: a vanilla-cocoa flavoured Imperial Stout, a German smoked ale or a seasonally cinnamon-spiced Belgian. Goddamn, even Waldo couldn't hide behind that surprise.

All the time the readers are thinking: "What have we done to deserve this nonsense: a grown-up traveling back to his or her childhood excitement - which, by the way, is absolutely alright and sometimes even good for you - but by playing the childish calendar game with alcoholic beverages?" I bet you won't be able to combine a pure childhood experience and drinking beer in any kind of point. Nope, sorry, don't waste your time trying.

So, if you're thinking about making or buying a beer advent calendar or - in the worst case - publishing daily blog entries about one, make the right choice: forget it. Now. If you have already bought one, be a smart dickhead: open every door at once tomorrow and let the world know what you found. And let yourself and us have a merry three-and-a-half-week period before Christmas!


Now, this is a good question for all people who are enthusiastically, hands shaking waiting to get to cork their calendar. Well, do you? In fact, the song reminds us about the idea of Christmas. Even though, like every charity song before and after, the music has the certain mandatory artificiality and the lyrics are somewhat corny and unimaginative. Not a great song but made to serve a great purpose.

Band Aid: Do They Know It's Christmas? (YouTube)

Published in a single in 1984, the song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure.