Twas The Beer Before Christmas: A Brewery Visit From St. Nicholas

While not widely known, St. Nicholas, among his many patronages includes brewers. He is a patron saint of brewers. The way we think of St. Nick in America begins with the publication of Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Visit From St, Nicholas by Clement C. Moore in 1823. So with my tongue firmly set in my cheek, I decided to rewrite Moore’s masterpiece, moving his visit from the home to the brewery. Hoppy Christmas. Enjoy. For more detail on how this came about, and about the original poem, see below.


Twas the Beer Before Christmas:
A Brewery Visit From St. Nicholas

‘Twas the beer before Christmas, when down in the brewery
Not a bottle was stirring, not a mouse dared to scurry;
The hoses were hung by the kettle with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would drink there;

The bottles, like children, nestled snug in their beds,
While visions of candi sugar fermented their heads;
The brewers, in hoodies, gave just the impression,
They’d all settled down for long winter’s session,

When outside by the tanks there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the brewery to see what was the matter.
Away to the rollup I flew like a flash,
Tore open the lock, the door flew up with a crash.

The moon on the breast of the newly-paved tarmack
Gave the lustre of stout looking velvety black,
When, what to my sobering eyes should appear,
But a miniature delivery wagon, and eight kegs of beer,

With a little old brewmaster, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than fermenting his brewers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now, Busch! Now, Rheingold!, now, Pabst and Carling!
On, Schlitz! on, Schmidt! on, Miller and Yuengling!
To the top of the jockey box! To the top of the cask!
Now drink away! drink away! drink away the whole flask!”

As dry hopping that before the wild bittering fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, toast a drink to the sky;
So up to the brewery-top the brewers they flew,
With the wagon full of Beers, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, glasses tinkling, I heard on the roof
The toasting and drinking of each little goof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Out the fermenter St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in red, from his toes to his top,
And his coveralls were soiled with spent grain and hops;
A carton of Beers he had flung on his back,
And his rubber boots squeaked as he opened his pack.

His besotted eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were all rosy, like New Glarus cherry!
His droll little mouth was beseeching our pardon,
And the beard of his chin was as white as Hoegaarden;

The end of a zwickel he held tight in one hand,
While the other held Watermelon Wheat that was canned;
He had a beer belly, that bent two stumpy legs,
That shook when he laughed, like a half-emptied keg.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old brewer,
And I drank when I saw him, for what could be truer;
A wink of his eye as he poured generous heads,
Soon gave me to know he would join us instead;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And emptied the bottles; then sat with a smirk,
And raising his glass, he gave the first toast,
Then each brewer, in turn, drank to his own riposte;

Then he sprang to his wagon, to his brewers gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a hop torpedo missile.
But I heard his last toast, ere he drove out of here,
“Hoppy Christmas to all, and to all drink good beer.”


More About the Original Poem & How This Version Came To Be

In late 2009 — a Saturday night — I read Porter and Alice, my two kids, Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Visit From St, Nicholas by Clement C. Moore. Whenever I read something I know to my children (which happens a lot, kids love repetition) the writer in me edits as I go. I change words as if it was my work, I flatter myself I’m improving it or correcting mistakes. A scatterbrained scheme was hatched as I again read them what’s probably the most famous Christmas poem.

First published in 1823, according to Wikipedia, “it is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children. Prior to the poem, American ideas about St. Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors varied considerably. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus beyond the United States to the rest of the Anglosphere and the world.”

As I’ve written about before, St. Nick is also a Patron Saint of Brewers. So with my tongue firmly set in my cheek, I decided to rewrite Moore’s masterpiece, moving his visit from the home to the brewery.

As it happens, there are a lot of different versions of the poem, with incremental changes having been made over the years. I used, for no particular reason, an edition from Trans-Pacific Radio. Enjoy. Hoppy Christmas. You can also compare the two versions side by side, which also includes the brewers names I’ve used in previous years. The plan is to change those each year.

Feel free to share my version of the poem, with credit if you please, plus a link back here is always appreciated.

UPDATE: Georgia’s Sweetwater Brewing also did their own beer-themed version called Sweetwater’s Night Before Christmas. There’s also another beer-themed one I shared last year, Twas the Brewer’s Night Before Christmas. For many more parodies, check out the Canonical List of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Variations, which contains 849 different variations on the poem.

Beer In Ads #1768: Guinness Time

Wednesday’s holiday ad is for Guinness, from 1962. This is one of the last illustrations John Gilroy did for Guinness, and it was featured on the company magazine for Christmas 1962. The slightly angled one below is the largest image of it I could find, although the smaller one below it gives you a better look at it. I like how determined Santa is to get that glass of beer, willing to jump through a harp held my a lion.



Beer In Ads #1767: Open Before Christmas

Tuesday’s holiday ad is for both Narragansett Lager Beer and Ballantine, from 1979. Although the ads was created by the Narragansett Brewing Co., they did include a can of Ballantine in the ad, too, and mentioned it in the ad copy that accompanied that it:

Open up the holiday season with a
‘Gansett lager beer or a Ballantine Ale.
Or both if you’re expecting friends.
And speaking of friends, it’s loyal friends like you who have made Narragansett Lager Beer and Ballantine Ale traditional New England favorites.
And that’s a tradition we’ve been carrying on longer than any other New England brewery, thanks to you.
So, as the old year comes to a close, be sure to open the New Year with our best Narragansett Lager Beer and Ballantine Ale.


Beer In Ads #1766: Something More Than Beer…

Monday’s holiday ad is for Budweiser, from 1952. What could be “something more than beer….?” Apparently it’s “A tradition in hospitality.” The wagon with Santa is great though. Instead of eight tiny reindeer, it’s eight not-so-tiny Clydesdales and the sleigh is pulling beer in bottles and kegs, though I suppose those are toy of a sort.


Beer In Ads #1764: The Rheingold Christmas Tree

Saturday’s ad is for Rheingold Beer, from 1957, and features Miss Rheingold from that year, Margie McNally. It’s a simple ad, with Miss Rheingold out on a crisp winter’s day, wearing a warm white winter coat, and choosing a tree for Christmas. Hopefully, this isn’t the one she settled on, as it looks more fit for Charlie Brown.


Beer In Ads #1763: He’s Earned It

Friday’s holiday ad is for Work Beer, from 2010. Work appears to be a contract brewer in Richmond, Virginia that started in 1999. For this Christmas ad, Santa’s relaxing after his workday with a case of beer plus an additional six-pack. In the bottom right of the ad it gives a pretty good synopsis of why he’s earned his case of beer:

Each year Santa delivers toys to 378 million children. To get the job done before any little girl or boy wakes up, Santa must travel 3,000 times the speed of sound pulling a sleigh that weights 321,300 tons. In 31 hours he must visit 91.8 million homes, allowing him to spend 1/1000th of a second at each home.

It sure beats milk and cookies.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Beer In Ads #1761: Father William Wishes You A Merry Xmas —

Wednesday’s holiday ad is for William Younger’s Scotch Ale, from 1931. Father William I understand, but what the hell is he riding? It looks like an ostrich made of a Christmas ornament with Christmas crackers for legs and a tail of either mistletoe or a sprig of pine tree. The whatever it is, the creature’s wearing a sort of dunce cap with a decorative ball of yarn on top. And lastly, what is on the beast’s neck? Perhaps this is what you see if drink too much Scotch Ale.