Holiday ideas for, and by, local beer enthusiasts 

"It's really fun to pull out a beer each night, drink it, and then talk about it."

Looking for a way to add to your holiday cheer this season? Some local beer enthusiasts have a few ideas.

East End Brewing Company, for one, is offering a "12 Beers of Christmas" special. Owner Scott Smith says that, for $100 (discounted from $122), customers will get to sample the brewery's entire current lineup of 12 beers.

"I noticed that the brewery's new 32-ounce growlers came 12 to a box, and we have 12 taps in the wall," Smith says. "Pretty easy to think 12 beers, 12 bottles ... and 12 days of Christmas."

Keeping with the spirit of the season (and brewery policy), Smith says he'll refund the $3 (per growler) deposit if the bottles are returned clean and in good condition.

If you're a more ambitious reveler, you could take a cue from Tim and Devon Murdoch — the couple behind the blog Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh — and mark the season with your very own beer advent calendar.

Most advent calendars feature two dozen tiny doors for the days before Christmas, with chocolates or trinkets behind each door. The Murdochs' calendar updates that tradition for the over-21 set.

"It's really fun to pull out a beer each night, drink it, and then talk about it," says Devon.

Tim says that while poster tubes and a cardboard box are perfectly acceptable building materials for an annual calendar, the couple spent about $90 and crafted a masterpiece from PVC pipe and hand-stained wood.

The beer selection, according to Tim, is "90 percent local," with a couple of out-of-town favorites thrown in. To preserve the element of surprise, a third party was enlisted to fill the calendar with bottles such as Full Pint Festivus, Penn Brewery St. Nicholas Bock, Fat Head Holly Jolly, East End Snowmelt and Roundabout's New Zealand Summer Winter Warmer.

You can find directions for building your own advent calendar at the Murdochs' blog, penniespintspittsburgh.com. Which is lucky, because the original is not for sale.

"It's a family heirloom," says Devon.



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