By Sue Botos
Most people may have heard of, or even experienced, love at first sight. But for one Rocky River couple, it was more like love at first sip.
Katherine and Eric Mzik’s story of how romance brewed over glasses of Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale won the twosome the coveted 2011 “First Pour” of the popular holiday quaff at the brewery’s Pour Party on Oct. 25.
The Mizks submitted a one-minute video titled “Ode to Christmas Ale” in response to Great Lakes’ first Christmas Ale Memories contest. It chronicles how the two, who had been dating casually, fell in love at the 2006 Pour Party and ultimately married.
Katherine Mzik, formerly Katherine Boyd, TV news reporter for Channels 3 and 5 said that the October 2006 event was the first time she had tasted the brew, and that after three, she and Eric, a drummer for local rock bands, “became inseparable.” In the video she recalled, “That’s when the Christmas Ale Cupid let his arrow fly.”
Following up on those cupid’s arrows, the couple married on the following Valentine’s Day in a ceremony at Tower City in downtown Cleveland. “We celebrated with — what else? — two cases of Christmas Ale,” Mzik said in the video, which she narrated. Ultimately, what Mzik described as “the best Christmas present I could ever hope for at this point in my life” came along when daughter Emmie, now 2, was born.
“In our family, Christmas Ale is a true family tradition,” explained Mizk.
It was this emphasis on love and tradition that caught the eye of contest judges, according to Lauren Boveington of Great Lake’s marketing department.
“We had over 100 entries, mostly pictures of people celebrating with family and friends,” said Boveington of the first Christmas Ale Memories contest. “This was the only video that drew everyone’s
attention. It was the best story and very
creative,” she stated.
Christmas Ale, a beer brewed with honey, ginger and spices, goes on sale around Halloween each year, and its fanatical following usually makes the brew hard to find by the holidays.
Explaining the popularity of Christmas Ale, Boveington said that the smooth brew is only available for eight weeks. The fact that it has 7.5 percent alcohol content doesn’t hurt, either.
Although Emmie Mzik may not be able to sample Christmas Ale for about 19 years, she can still get a taste of her parents’ favorite libation in the form of Christmas Ale Ginger Snap ice cream, available at all five Mitchell’s Ice Cream stores. At the Rocky River location on Nov. 1, the first day of sales, Rod Hoffman, guest experience director, remarked, “We’ve had a great turnout already. There were cars in the parking lot 10 minutes before we opened.”
Hoffman said this is the first year Mitchell’s has offered the treat, which is also served at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. He added that while it is made with the brew, it has “very minimal” alcohol content, and is safe for kids to eat.
“You get that ginger snap taste, but it does taste like Christmas Ale,” he continued.
The brewery has strong ties to Rocky River, as owners Pat and Dan Conway grew up in the city. The brothers are known for their support of sustainability, and have been recycling at their business and accompanying restaurant since before the concept became well-known.