MEDINA — When the Great Lakes Brewing Company taps its Christmas Ale at a first pour party, it is a festive kickoff to the holiday season.
But there is more than one libation in town to toast to all things merry and bright and Twiisted Burgers and Sushi in Medina may have found a fun way to answer the question of which is best with its annual Battle of the Christmas Ale competition.
“A lot of places will do tap takeovers where a brewery will come in, takes over the taps and usually does something festive with it. …. We wanted to do something a little different because we’re Twiisted,” said Chris Pappas, owner.
“Our twist on the tap take over was to give four tap handles to one brewery and four tap handles to another brewery and then letting the customers come in … and then everyone chooses who they think is the winner.”
Pappas said that the staff will create burgers to pair with one of the beers from each brewery. So, in addition to choosing which beer is the best, customers get to chose which burger is the best.
This year Thirsty Dog Brewery — reigning champions of the competition — and Fat Heads Brewery will compete against each other in the battle’s second year.
“Cleveland just goes crazy for Christmas ale, obviously, with Great Lakes being, basically, the godfather of beer,” said Pappas.
Twiisted did six tap takeovers last year, but the Battle of the Christmas Ale was its biggest hit.
“Chris Pappas, the owner of Twiisted out there, sells a lot of craft beer and we have been a supplier to him for years,” said John Najeway, co-owner of Thirsty Dog. “He thought it would be nice to do something around Christmas and the Christmas beers.”
Najeway said they competed against Great Lakes Brewing Company last year and won thanks to its 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale.
This year, Thirsty Dog will be serving three different versions of its Christmas ale. One is its original 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale.
The second version is the 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale, which has been aged in rum barrels while the third version has been aged in bourbon barrels.
One non-Christmas beverage from Thirsty Dog will be served as well. Thirsty Dog and Twiisted have chosen a blood orange IPA, which has been aged in rum barrels.
“It continues to spread the word about us as a local brewery,” Najeway said about the event.
“The neat thing is that Twiisted is a local independently owned restaurant so it has a big economic impact on that restaurant and Medina and getting the word out on local craft beers.”
A representative from Fat Heads did not return a call for comment.
The Battle of the Christmas Ale is 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Twiisted located at 985 Boardman Alley, Medina.