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How to Bring Great Beer to the Holiday Party or Dinner

Picking the right beer around the holiday season is a challenge, even when tastes haven’t shifted to cocktails or wine. Here’s how to do it without looking like a cheapskate or a snob.

With roughly 6,000 breweries in the U.S., there’s nothing simple about a holiday beer run.

Sales at some of the largest craft brewers — including Boston Beer Company (SAM – Get Report) and its Samuel Adams brand, Sierra Nevada, Yuengling, Craft Brew Alliance (particularly its Redhook and Widmer Brothers brands) and Dogfish Head — have stagnated or slumped since the start of 2016. Mexican lager brands, on the other hand, including Heineken’s Dos Equis and Constellation Brands’ (STZ – Get Report) Corona and Modelo, have seen big gains in recent years, with gains ranging from 6% for Corona and Dos Equis in 2016 to 18% for Modelo during the same span.

So how do you bring beer to a party, when fewer people are drinking beer? If you’re afraid the snobs will sniff at your cans of light lager, but more laid-back drinkers will shun costlier, more-experimental offerings, there are ways to split the difference.

Chris O’Leary, a Brooklyn-based marketer and beer writer who edits the beer blog Brew York, finds fertile middle ground among craft beer’s more established breweries. Nearby Brooklyn Brewery (founded in 1987), Boston’s Harpoon Brewery (1986) and Downingtown, Pa.-based Victory Brewing (1996) have long track records and rank among the Top 40 craft breweries in the country by size, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. All also all cost about $35 for a case, just below the industry average of $36, according to market research firm IRI.

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