TOPS RUNS HOLIDAY SPECIALTY BEER ADS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forget that partridge in a pear tree, Tops Friendly Markets here put a new spin on an old carol by offering its shoppers 12 imported, microbrewed and seasonal beers for Christmas.Tops merchandised the beers in a half-page, two-color ad that ran in local newspapers with the headline "The 12 Beers of Christmas" and "On the 12th day of Christmas my True Love gave to me" as a subheadline.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forget that partridge in a pear tree, Tops Friendly Markets here put a new spin on an old carol by offering its shoppers 12 imported, microbrewed and seasonal beers for Christmas.

Tops merchandised the beers in a half-page, two-color ad that ran in local newspapers with the headline "The 12 Beers of Christmas" and "On the 12th day of Christmas my True Love gave to me" as a subheadline. The ad used Roman numerals, one through 12, with a brief description of each beer.

Many of the beers were imported and contained seasonal recipes. Officials at Tops declined to comment on the promotion.

The twelfth beer of Tops' Christmas promotion was Samichlaus Bier, which is "brewed only once a year and patiently aged a full 11 months before bottling" and priced at $2.99 a 12-ounce bottle. Number 11 was Catamount Christmas Ale, from Vermont's Ski Country, at $1.49 a bottle. And coming in at number 10 was Harpoon Winter Warmer, an amber brew with a spicy malt taste reminiscent of pumpkin pie, $1.29 a bottle.

Number nine was Rhino Chasers Winterful, at $1.19 a bottle; number eight was Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, $1.49 a bottle; number seven was Sam Smith's Winter Welcome, a "true British holiday ale" imported from Yorkshire, England, $3.88 for an 18.7-ounce bottle.

The sixth beer of Christmas, Breckenridge Christmas Ale, was the most unusual. Priced at $9.94 for a 33.8-ounce bottle, there are only 6,000 numbered limited edition bottles available worldwide, and in the United States it is available exclusively at Tops.

Young's Winter Warmer, imported from London, was the fifth beer of Christmas, and priced at $1.99 for a 12-ounce bottle. Saint Sylvester's, 25.4-ounce bottle for $5.88, was number four, while Saranac Season's Best, produced by the F.X. Matt Brewery in Utica, N.Y., was third. At 99-cents a 12-ounce bottle, Saranac is described as a "special amber beer with a hint of chocolate."

Tops' second beer of Christmas is Affligem Noel, a "delightful blend of malts and fruit flavors" that was $4.88 a 25.4-ounce bottle. And the first beer of Christmas at Tops was Scaldis Noel, $3.88 a bottle, imported from the Dubuisson Brewery in Tournai, Belgium.