by BethesdaNow.com — December 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm 881 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This weekly sponsored column is written by Arash Tafakor, owner of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

Since I’ve been in the wine and beer business, I’ve always wondered what Santa would drink after a hard night of work delivering gifts. Would he drink a Belgium brew? A big heavy Cabernet Sauvignon? Or maybe a white wine like Riesling? Maybe Santa’s big belly comes from drinking American IPAs?

And yes, Santa does drink, at least according to some Christmas traditions in Europe and elsewhere. Instead of milk, some families in Britain and Australia actually leave beer or sherry for Old St. Nick to enjoy. In Ireland, Guinness is often the drink of choice during Santa’s visit.

(I heard somewhere that Santa is not a big fan of liquor and always drinks in moderation.)

There are many different types of holiday drinks that you, Santa, and other responsible adults can enjoy on Christmas night. Brewers and wineries come out with special holiday libations specifically for a special night with family. Here are a few that I would recommend.

Chaucer’s Christmas Mead

Santa’s got to drink mead right? There is archaeological evidence that mead has been around since 7000 BC, which is even before Santa’s time. Mead is also very popular in northern Europe and the Baltic area, right by the North Pole. It’s a perfect fit. Mead, also known as “honey wine,” is an alcoholic beverage that is brewed with honey and water. This particular mead is brewed with three types of honey making it sweet and delicious. Most mead traditionalist have their own recipe of serving mead. Some serve it cold, but most will warm it up and add some spices to make this drink perfect for a cold Christmas night.

Sam Adams Utopia 2012

Santa delivers presents to millions of people around the world, all in one night — with that kind of gusto, he’s probably the kind of guy who could handle one of the strongest and most expensive beers in the world, right? With an A.B.V of 29%, this beer retails for about 200 dollars! Sam Adams founder Jim Koch is a true beer pioneer. Jim created this brew based off of his original triple bock. Jim wanted to push the limits of alcohol content of beer, which had a normal maximum around 14%. While pushing the limits of A.B.V., Jim wanted to make a totally unique beverage that was truly different from any other beer ever made. Using old bourbon, rum, and other various wood barrels this brew is almost like a port or a cognac with tons of complexities. Perfect for you or Santa by a warm fire.

Chimay Speciale Cent Ciquante

Maybe Santa likes Belgium brews.  If so he’ll love to drink Chimay’s 150-year anniversary ale. Chimay is one of the best Belgium beer producers out there. If your local beer store does not carry Chimay, leave immediately. This special edition brew is a full-bodied strong beer with all natural ingredients. Comes off clean with a champagne sparkle, this brew has a perfect spice and fruit taste that makes it a perfect Belgium style beer for Santa.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.


by BethesdaNow.com — December 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm 569 0

The first exhibition planned for Gallery B in 2013 will feature a group of local artists, including a graphic designer from Bethesda.

Alice Kresse, who creates digital collages and prints and was a designer for the Washington Post, will be one of five artists at the opening reception on Friday, Jan. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., which will coincide with that month’s Bethesda Art Walk.

The Gallery (7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E) will be open from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

Artists interested in having their work in Gallery B should contact the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) and visit bethesda.org for more information and an application.

Bios for the rest of the artists featured in the exhibit, set for Jan. 9 to Feb. 2, are after the jump.


by BethesdaNow.com — December 21, 2012 at 11:35 am 1,982 2 Comments

Somewhere in the middle of 86 inflatable Christmas decorations is the house of Bob and Lucy Elliott.

Each holiday season for the last seven or eight years, the Elliott home on Rosehill Drive has become a destination. The collection of inflatable Santas, cartoon characters and Jesus, Mary and Joseph has grown enough to attract neighbors and those who document particularly festive Christmas houses.

This year’s display is the biggest ever. Nearly 90 inflatables dot the home’s front and backyard. Bob Elliott created a lighted path to guide visitors around the many wires and electric cords zigzagging through the half-acre property.

“The density has definitely increased,” Lucy Elliott said.

It’s a hobby Bob Elliott said he started on a whim that has turned into a meticulous exercise.

Each year, on the day after Christmas, he heads to local big box stores that sell the inflatables (which can range from $20 to 150) and buys them at clearance prices.

They become part of the next year’s display, carefully designed, maintained and reviewed every day in case high winds or trespassing deer knock one out of place.

Elliott positions the tallest inflatables between trees so they are more visible from nearby Seven Locks Road.

There is a singing Frosty the Snowman, starfish and poker-playing Santas. There is a Snoopy, Pooh Bear and dozens others, and a scavenger hunt game with a guide.

The display goes up the day after Thanksgiving, what Bob Elliott calls his personal Black Friday. He inflates, ties down and sets up most of the display over that weekend and the visitors start coming by. He’ll incorporate favorites of the couple’s two young children. (The Elliotts ask visitors to stop walking around the property after 10 p.m.)

by BethesdaNow.com — December 21, 2012 at 10:05 am 1,442 1 Comment

The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday approved a controversial plan for a seven-story, approximately 120-unit apartment in a neighborhood of townhomes near the Bethesda Metro station.

The 4831 West Lane project from D.C.-based SJG Properties raised the ire of many residents in the neighborhood, who said the building was too tall, would attract too much traffic to one-way and narrow roads and does not fit the area’s residential character.

But the Planning Board, in a hearing that dragged on for more than three hours and highlighted inconsistencies in the area’s Sector Plan guidelines, ultimately decided existing traffic problems shouldn’t discourage density just 900 feet from the Bethesda Metro station.

The Board voted 3 to 1 to approve the roughly 120 units (with 15 percent of those units reserved for affordable housing) despite neighbors’ pleas that 120 units would bring more traffic and more of the type of delivery trucks and service trucks that already clog up one way Montgomery Lane and narrow West Lane.

Board Chair Francoise Carrier proposed limiting the project at 100 total (85 market rate) apartments, which SJG attorney Pat Harris said would be the limit of what is economically feasible for the developer.

But Commissioners Casey Anderson, Norman Dreyfus and Amy Presley argued the Bethesda CBD Sector Plan calls for high density development close to the Metro station, while also recognizing it calls for the neighborhood in question to retain a townhome like character and pedestrian-friendly Montgomery Lane from the Metro to Arlington Road.

Vice Chair Marye Wells-Harley left before the Board voted.

To assuage resident concerns of increased service truck traffic on the streets, SJG included three loading dock stations on its building. But many argued delivery men and contractors rarely go where they are supposed to, instead stopping for a few minutes in the middle of Montgomery Lane or West Lane.

To discourage delivery men from stopping on Montgomery Lane, where the front lobby of the apartment is proposed, Harris said the lobby would be locked except to residents and all service trucks would be directed to loading docks.

“This project complies more closely with the Bethesda Sector Plan than any on this street,” Harris said. “Quite honestly, we’re a little taken aback by the level of opposition to this project.”

Residents and resident associations from the major surrounding communities, The Chase, the Villages of Bethesda, the Edgemoor and the Town Homes all sent letters in opposition of the project and came to the hearing yesterday. One resident claimed all 29 residents of the Town Homes were opposed.

“The Sector Plan says it should be townhouse in nature,” said one resident of the Edgemoor Condominiums. “This big bulky office-like square building is not the character of the area.”

The Planning Board’s approval does not guarantee the project will go forward. The issue will go before a county Hearing Examiner on Jan. 11 before ultimately going before the County Council.

Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department

by BethesdaNow.com — December 21, 2012 at 9:00 am 586 0

Metro Elevator Project Pushed Back Again — Despite plans to reopen the elevator at the Bethesda Metro station in October, then late November, then early December, the elevator remains closed and now is scheduled to be completed next week. Yesterday, the station’s three escalators stopped working during the evening rush hour, leaving riders with a long hike or waiting for a shuttle bus at Medical Center. [FixWMATA via Twitter]

B-CC Beard Contest Raises Almost $1700 — Psychology teacher Paul Soboslay and student running mate Ellis Palmeri are your 2012 Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School beard contest winners. Students paid $1 yesterday to vote for the best beard. The contest raised $1,676 for the National Center for Children and Families on Greentree Road. [h/t Tim Gilmore]

High Wind Watch Tomorrow — The National Weather Service says sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph will affect Montgomery County and much of the D.C. area tomorrow, which could cause downed trees and power lines. [National Weather Service]

Flickr photo by crthomas888


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