APEX — Two years ago, my wife called and told me to drive to Apex to pick up an early Christmas gift.
The address she gave me put me downtown at the Apex Beer Dispensary. And inside, owner Tim Overcash handed me a red box with 25 individually wrapped long-neck presents.
Overcash called it an Advent Calendar Beer Box. A countdown to Christmas Day with beer, he said.
Each bottle was numbered for a surprise brew each day. As a beer enthusiast, I thought it was a perfect present.
And others agree. The concept has grown increasingly popular, even though Overcash does little to advertise it.
He heard about the idea from his brother, whose friend in Germany received an Advent beer calendar.
The first year I figured Id sell three, he said.
Overcash sold 18 with only one sign advertising the promotion. He removed it after a week because he worried he wouldnt have time to complete the orders.
The problem: They take time to assemble. As I talked to him at the bottle shop last week, his parents were at home wrapping the boxes. Its a family thing, he said.
This year, Overcash sold more than 30. He cut off sales Monday to give him time to put them together before Dec. 1
The boxes are sold in three tiers at $60, $75 and $100. The first tier is all 12-ounce domestic microbrews. The second includes higher-end beers and a 750 ml bottle for the 25th day. The third tier his most popular seller includes some imported Belgian holiday ales with a big bottle from Belgium, such as a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, on the final day.
Overcash enjoys his role as beer Santa. But he admits he gets jealous of the lucky recipients when hes putting together the boxes.
Even though its now too late to order a box from the Beer Dispensary, Overcash walked me through how to make my own.
Start with a box, Overcash said, holding up a beer box that held 24 12-ounce beers, or four six-packs.
Get wrapping: Wrap the outside of box in holiday paper. Fold tissue paper into a cone-shape to fit over the top of each bottle and can or wrap each one with tissue paper or holiday paper by hand.
Pick the beer: This is the fun part. The majority will be winter or Christmas ales, Overcash said. Then we kind of round it out with a few different styles so its not all the same, a few surprises and obviously things that people may not choose themselves.
How to assemble: Either attach a number to each wrapped bottle in the box or make a calendar with numbers 1 through 24 scattered across the grid. Affix the calendar to the side of the box and follow the map to find the corresponding beer. Make a special wrapping for the No. 25 beer, which is usually a large, corked bottle.
Enjoy: Put the entire box in the refrigerator or a couple bottles at a time. And dont worry if you dont drink one a day I couldnt. I saved a few days worth of bottles and invited neighbors and friends to a holiday beer tasting.
Contact John at 919-829-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.