Tapping two Pa. brewers for ideas on what makes a great holiday beer

 Jean Broillet and Julie Foster offer ideas on the best holiday brews. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Jean Broillet and Julie Foster offer ideas on the best holiday brews. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Getting together with family and friends this holiday season may send many of us reaching for a drink. Or, more specifically, a beer.

So what’s in your growler this time of year?

We put that question to Jean Broillet and Julie Foster, owners of Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, to learn what they’re looking for in a great holiday brew.

One thing to be aware of, they said, is alcohol content. Beers with less alcohol by volume, or session beers, let you sip more suds without going overboard. “It’s nice because you can drink and enjoy yourself,” said Foster. “But not become intoxicated and embarrass yourself at office or family functions.”

“It’s also really refreshing and a way to stay hydrated,” she added.

Flavor is also crucial, according to Broillet, who brews at Tired Hands.

“What has become a holiday beer is essentially a spiced beer,” he said. “During the holidays, brewers would bring out their best as a ‘thank you’ to their guests or their patrons.”

Broillet and Foster said the saison, French for “season,” is a standby among holiday beers. It was originally brewed to be lighter in alcohol — “the Gatorade for farmhands” — but was largely dependent on temperature and so reflected the conditions in which it was made.

But what matters more than the kind of beer you drink is how you drink it, the said. In other words, skip the calorie-counting this holiday season.

“Enjoy your beer, by all means,” said Foster. “It’s an organoleptic experience, not a diet!”

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