New Year’s Eve can be something of a house of cards. There’s this tenuous balance that must be achieved in order for the perfect evening to be attained. It’s why many resist, preferring instead to put on PJs and Netflix (Black Mirror won’t disappoint you like a non-existent date will). But the first order of business for our heroes, the ones who push through and attempt to be human for an evening, is finding the appropriate social lubricant: beer.
Whether you’re hosting or attending a New Year’s soiree, here are the best beers to have on stock.
What to bring to a party
If it’s a small shindig: do the classy thing and bring a few 22 oz. bottles. This is the more expensive route, but it lends itself to conversation around a living room. You can sample and taste the nuanced beers in small sips. For this, we recommend getting two of the same style for contrast and two much different. In the 22 oz. bottle section in the grocery, there’s often IPA’s so get two of those. Maybe Ninkasi Total Domination and Lagunitas IPA. You can follow those up with an Arrogant Bastard Red Ale and a Newcastle Brown — both big-bodied and bold but not bitter.
If it’s more of a paaarrrtaaayyy: then bring a few six-packs for all your fellow guests. Stella Artois is always a safe option. It’s like the Subway Sandwiches of beer if Subway was a Belgium company. If you want to take it a step up, purchase Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, it’s flowery and hoppy and the original modern beer of sophistication. Now, if you want to add a third six-pack to your gift bearing, try Killian’s Irish Red. It’s a flavorful beer that’s not a light pilsner and not a heavy IPA. It’s not even super malty, which one might expect.
What to buy if you’re hosting
If it’s a small shindig: stick with the nuanced. Yes, you’ll need a few cheap, easy-drinking beers like Rolling Rock (our personal favorite). Or if you want something more in the middle of the road, try Moose Drool Brown Ale from Big Sky. But, most importantly, make sure to stock your fridge and coolers with interesting cans, like the sharp Dale’s Pale Ale and the bright 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA. And if you’re feeling cheeky, buy a couple giant Foster’s cans for laughs.
If it’s more of a paaarrrtaaayyy: okay, this is where beer artists shine. Diversity is key and you’d be surprised how much beer a group of people can drink. Take lessons from all of the above; have interesting 22 oz. bottles, like Arrogant Bastard, have cans like Dale’s Pale Ale, have six-packs (or even 12 packs) of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But stock a few wild options, too, like Olde English 40 oz. malt beer, Angry Orchard and Finnriver apple ciders and, because someone always brings their kids, some root or ginger beer (our favorite is Thomas Kemper, but Barq’s will do in a pinch). And, finally, while beer is great, make sure to keep a few bottles of champagne (or champagne alternatives) on ice. It is New Year’s, after all!