This week's Six Pack offers up headlines that have consumers buzzing in the world of beer, wine, and spirits this week:
1. Proof Beer Is Good for You: Drinking lots of beer may be the key to staying in good health this winter, at least according to a Japanese medical study funded by — wait for it — a Japanese brewery.
Sapporo Breweries, citing a study by Sapporo Medical University, said consuming large quantities of a key ingredient found in beer can boost cold-fighting abilities in adults and help prevent a serious virus in small children.
The Agency France Presse reports: "A chemical compound in hops, the plant brewers use to give beer its bitter taste, provides an effective guard against a virus that can cause severe forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in youngsters." The news isn't all good though, in order to boost virus-fighting capabilities, a person would have to drink around thirty 12-ounce cans, which may not be the healthiest undertaking.
2. The Reason for the Season: Seasonal craft beer releases often reflect the holidays this time of year and Maryland-based DuClaw Brewing will be sure to grab some attention with its latest offering. On Dec. 12, the company will release Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. DuClaw describes the 6.5-percent alcohol by volume beer as finishing "smooth, dry and roasty with notes of chocolate, espresso and peanut butter so tasty, you'll have no choice but to exclaim the name!"
In Houston, craft brewer Saint Arnold is also working up a religious theme with its latest offerings. The brewery has created a new line of "Icon" beers, a rotating series of seasonal releases. According to Culture Map Houston, "The Icon name and logo comes from an image of the Saint Arnold of Metz icon painted at the brewery in 2000 by Father Andrei Davydov, a Russian priest who produced the fresco using a 1000-year old method of mixing paint and wax."
3. 'Tis the Season for Wine: For many consumers, a holiday season packed with parties and gift buying means wine becomes a go-to item, so much so that Wine.com estimates 30 percent of its annual sales come during the holiday season. To that end, Bordeaux.com is billing itself as a place to "alleviate stress and aggravation during the holiday season." The site's "Today's Bordeaux" section features wines priced between $9 and $35, and more than half of all wines offered are $20 or less. The site allows consumers to search for wines by occasion, color, and tasting note categories.
4. Craft Beer Fights for a Place at the Dinner Table: While holiday meals often conjure up the need to pick the right wine for the holiday meal, the folks at Samuel Adams Brewing are asking consumers to put craft beer to the test against red wine. The brewery has created a craft beer versus red wine tasting experience that consumers can try at home and "see why craft beer deserves a seat at the dinner table."
But the tasting doesn't end there. The brewery has teamed up with San Francisco-based craft chocolate maker TCHO to create the Samuel Adams Beer Lover's Chocolate Box. The box comes with 12 chocolates to pair with the brewery's Winter Classics Variety Pack. The beer and chocolate are sold separately, the chocolate box is sold here.
5. Ugly Sweater Run: If too much holiday eating and drinking leaves you needing to run off a few extra pounds, the creators of the Ugly Sweater Run have just the event for you. The group is encouraging "runners and walkers to dress up in their worst holiday sweaters" for a 3.1-mile run/walk.The caloric benefit may be a wash though as the event is sponsored by Samuel Adams, which is available at the finish line. In addition to two free Samuel Adams Winter Lagers, each Ugly Sweater participant gets a custom pint glass, a Santa Hat/Reindeer Hat, and the course features "hot chocolate aide stations, snow blowers, Clark Griswold's front yard and sledding hills (as long as it's cold enough)." The runs are currently scheduled in eight different cities over the next few weeks.
6. The Season of Giving: The holiday season is also a time for giving and several beverage companies are stepping up to give back. Eight Long Island breweries have come together to create a special-edition beer. Brewers from Barrier Brewing, Blind Bat Brewery, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing, Long Ireland Beer, Port Jeff Brewing, and Spider Bite Brewing joined together at Blue Point Brewing to create "Surge Protector, Sandy Relief IPA." Profits from the beer will go to Long Island Cares and to craft brewer Barrier Brewing, which suffered nearly $100,000 in damages as a result of super storm Sandy.
-By Tom Rotunno, CNBC Senior Editor; Follow him @tomrotunno. Questions? Comments? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.