Holiday Beering: A Handy Guide for Office Parties and Family Gatherings 

You've made it through Thanksgiving, but remember, that was just the gut-busting starting pistol. Whether religious or not, we're all facing a nondenominational holiday season that makes an Ironman Triathlon look like a quaint British baking show. It will test the very fiber of your being and the stitching in your pants. Far, far too much cheese will be eaten. Drinking helps.

In a world where everything is customized, what exactly do you drink? Context matters. For example, Guinness tastes better in Ireland, and absinthe — outside of Paris or New Orleans — is just awful. To wit, a guide for you to drink the proper beer for the right environment.

Other than "Stay one drink behind your boss," there are no universal rules for office parties. If your company communicates primarily in spreadsheets, drink lagers. They are stable, reliable, and it's hard to get more mainstream. You can overdo this; a light kölsch is so innocuous that it might give the impression that your math, while good, might be too good. There is a reason the rest of the Eurozone hates German monetary policy.

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If you work in a place where people say things like "flow" and "the new normal" or have ever asked a client about their "platform," then IPAs are precisely "on brand." To be sure, they are just as mainstream as lagers; they just refuse to admit it. Double IPAs are even more so but will likely increase the regrettable type of "flow." The tech fields speak the same gibberish, but there is literally nothing I can write about that sector that will be current at publication.

If you work for an investment bank, just order the most expensive item on the menu and be sure to let your co-workers see you buy it. Don't let them see you pour it down the sink when you realize a $21 pint of spruce beer was ill-advised.

Many companies promote employees if they have a track record of being a pedantic twit. If that's you, drink a witbier. There isn't anything that pedantic about the style per se, but when you pronounce it, really lay into the 'wh' sound. This will annoy all assembled in a way they can't quite place. They'll hate you but will naturally concede you are on the cutting edge of something.

Wherever you earn that green, remember that pumpkin spice beers are an aphrodisiac. Tread lightly. The same goes for the Special Belge style; while not an aphrodisiac, you won't be able to resist the obvious pun. Best to avoid. Lambics and sours will announce that you are, in fact, unemployable.

Family get-togethers are simpler because they can't fire you — but that cuts both ways. You already know the score here, and you don't need my help. Understand that, for your in-laws, this is the traditional time to come together, explain why you suck, and try their best to have you voted off the island. Try to be nice. If you've married into the sort of family that reads a lot of Dickens and wears a lot of plaids, go with stouts and ales. If there are framed pictures of men in lederhosen, drink German dunkles. If the pictures are of men with Natty Light cases on their heads — well, when in Rome ... .

A saison is a great way to announce to all that you do have the vague notion that your food did come from a farm, and that's a good thing. A tad sanctimonious, but it will win crowd-points if your new Aunt Madge always dries out the turkey like she's making jerky.

If you married a Catholic, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a Belgian abby ale will fulfill your Sunday obligation. It will not. Just ask my mother.

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