‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the state

Not a creature was stirring, but they all couldn’t wait;

The stubby cans in Northville were filled with care,

In hopes that the masses would leave the shelves bare.

North Center Brewing Company‘s long anticipated the Flight Before Christmas beer release is this Friday, December 18! The night is going to look different than it has in previous years due to the global pandemic and current state orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Kevin DeGrood, owner of North Center Brewing Company, recently told me that despite the circumstances, he and his team are going to try and create holiday magic as people pick up their beer and with the beers themselves.

The Flight Before Christmas began in 2016 when the brewery wanted to celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday with a night of celebration rather than having the Christmas Ale on draft for the month of December. The inaugural year had four beers in the flight for people to enjoy in the taproom starting the Friday before Christmas. As the years went on, the flight grew to six beers and the crowds flocked to North Center Brewing Company on that designated Friday every year. Kevin recalled as many as “four deep would be crowded around the bar talking with friends and family, wearing holiday sweaters. We would run out of flight holders every single year because so many people were ordering the flight.”

As we know, this crowded bar scene will not be happening this year, so Kevin adapted to the times and made the flight available in 6-packs for people to take home and enjoy. If patrons wish to order and drink the flight on premise, they are able to do so on North Center’s social distanced patio.

Each can will have the same label with the gift tag filled out with which beer it is. | Photo courtesy of North Center Brewing Company

The Flight Before Christmas

The flight is made up of six 8 oz cans with a different beer in each can. Kevin wanted to ensure that people were getting the best bang for their buck at $15 a pack for 48 oz of beer. Below are brewers notes from Kevin and lead brewer, Kodi Amritt-Wall.

Grinch Ginger Apple Sour

The Grinch Ginger Apple Sour is a newcomer for the flight and is also the first sour to ever be included. The kettle sour captures the Grinch’s appearance with a green hue. Macintosh apples were used along with fresh ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Imperial Yamber Ale

This big beer comes in around 8% and is a bold and earthy ale. It has been in every flight since 2017. Kevin suggested that people enjoying the flight at home should toast marshmallows on top of the beer poured into a glass as this is what has been done in-house in the past.

White Russian Imperial Stout

Another new beer for 2020, this lactose-based beer is a dark and bold imperial stout. Cocoa nibs give it a lighter chocolate profile while the malt used provides a roasty touch. This beer should be around 9%.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout

The Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout always warms everyone up! The 5.5% chocolate stout is brewed with chili peppers and a touch of habanero this year. Kevin said the mouthfeel is of a stout while the back end brings the heat.

NCB Christmas Ale

The Christmas Ale has been the staple of the Flight Before Christmas. It is a thick bodied amber ale with honey, cloves, and cinnamon. It is one of Kevin’s original recipes and he said it is very similar to the Christmas Ale from Great Lakes.

Fruitcake Belgian Quad

This beer first showed up in the flight last year and is the biggest at 12% ABV. Belgian Quads are known to have a dark hue and fruity notes, but North Center wanted even more fruit so they added blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and orange and lemon zests. Yum!

Only 300 packaged flights will be made for the 2020 version of the Flight Before Christmas. Beer Club members got first dibs to pre-order before it was available to the public last Thursday. Also available for purchase is a house-made wing sauce dubbed Elf’s Blood for $10 a bottle. This wing sauce was created by North Center’s Chef Max and was made with Carolina Reaper peppers, cranberries, and pears. Sounds like a spicy yet festive sauce! As of the writing of this post, the flight could still be pre-ordered. To avoid large gatherings, North Center has a seven day pick up window during business hours beginning Friday, December 18 through Christmas Eve.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Flight Before Christmas to celebrate North Center Brewing Company style!

Disclaimer: North Center Brewing Company is a sponsor of Better on Draft Media.


Ed Norton

Edwin "Ed" Norton was first introduced to craft beer when his designated fraternity Big Brother Vince asked him if he knew anything about the topic. Ed admitted his ignorance and the rest is history as Ed and Vince would split six-packs of craft beers each week during Ed's probationary status. Ed is now a craft beer enthusiast who is always on the lookout for a beer he has not tried when bottle shopping or drinking at breweries and bars. In addition to drinking beer, this livelong Michigan resident enjoys a bunch of hobbies that he doubts you really care about, other than drinking beer and sounding off about it.


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