Christmas in July

As the hazy, sweltering summer days drag on, guests are looking for places to cool off—and there’s no better way to do this than to remind them of winter. Spreading holiday cheer in the summer months with Christmas in July promotions can help beat the heat while spreading holiday cheer. Check out how these two bars have made their holiday cheer work for them.

Around the Corner
At Around the Corner in Lakewood, Ohio, the Christmas in July promotion takes on a life of its own. With a large outdoor patio transformed into a winter wonderland, guests can enjoy a mid-year Christmas break complete with the fluffy white stuff. Yes snow! “We have snow on the patio. We have Santa Claus come by,” says Owner and Manager, Ryan Krivosh. Plus, if guests text in a special code, they “get a free gift from Santa.”

With six years under their belt, Krivosh says he’s always had great success with this promotion, especially because they serve the limited edition Great Lakes Christmas Ale from the Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Company, which is usually only available during the winter months.

Though the summer heat may deter people from wanting to drink a darker Christmas beer, it doesn’t stop patrons from coming out to Around the Corner. For Krivosh, Great Lakes Christmas Ale during the summer is the ultimate offering to patrons who every November and December go crazy for the beer. “We just offer that one. That seems to be the big hitter. That’s the one that everyone wants,” he says.

Photo by Pete Larson

Beginning last Thursday, Christmas in July will continue for two more Thursdays, each party offering something special including a band or DJ. Krivosh says it takes “a good month to promote,” the parties, noting that social media allows the event to gain steam only a couple weeks before.

However, thought out the years the promotion has “grown, and a lot of others see it; they see us being successful so they try it,” he says.

Market Garden Brewery and Bier Markt
“Basically we don’t have any patience,” explains Sam McNulty, operator of Market Garden Brewery, Bier Markt and Bar Cento in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood, about the Christmas in June promotion they host.

“We have all these kegs of Christmas ales from many different breweries, so we said ‘Let’s do it in June.’” McNulty chalks up making the promotion in June is because of impatience, but also he says “everyone is doing Christmas in July,” so a few years ago, he changed their Christmas holiday to June to stay a step ahead of the competition.

Market Garden, with its own brewery, brews its seasonal ale Festivus and hosts a summer Festivus holiday, mimicking the holiday made famous by “Seinfeld” a decade ago. “We do Festivus in June at Market Garden,” he explains, which includes a Festivus pole, the airing of grievances and even the feats of strength competition.

However, there are numerous varieties of Christmas and winter brews available to guests. From Belgium Christmas beers as well as local, craft offerings, Bier Markt saves kegs especially for this event. “We stock pile in our walk-in cooler as many Christmas kegs we can get our hands on,” he says. “Christmas ales are high in alcohol, meaning they age well, so you can keep it longer.”

“This year we had a dozen Christmas beers … Some kegs were emptied that very night (of the promotion), others lasted four or five days,” McNulty says. “There’s something about a limited release,” he adds, “that adds value to the experience. In this experience, it’s irreverent … to have a holiday part in the middle of summer.” He adds, “I think it’s throwing people a curve ball.”

It’s a tongue-in-cheek promotion, he says, but it gets the crowd going. “The arm wrestling was especially popular,” he says, joking that the Festivus beer is the ultimate prize after the feats of strength competition.

At Market Garden, McNulty says part of the strategy to attract guests is to “put the Festivus pole up a couple weeks early,” so people ask about it. “That was the start of it all,” he explains.

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