Upcoming Events: Tailgating at Triniti and the World's Largest Fondue Party

Craft beer fans are in for a double treat this month: In addition to the upcoming Stone Vertical Epic tasting next Thursday, December 13 at The Flying Saucer downtown, The Hay Merchant will be hosting a staggering Shmaltz tasting this Saturday featuring 16 different beers from Coney Island and He'Brew.

The Hay Merchant has been selected as one of Shmaltz Brewing Company's 16 "Chosen Bars" this year. And to celebrate, they're tapping 16 kegs of Shmaltz beers -- some of which are incredibly difficult to find, including He'Brew Jewbelation 8, 9, 10 and 12 as well as He'Brew Vertical Jewbelation. The tappings will commence at 3 p.m. and the event is over when the kegs have been drained.

Coming up this Monday is an event that football fans won't want to miss, when Triniti hosts its first-ever tailgating party. While the Houston Texans take on the New England Patriots on December 10 from 4 to 7 p.m, Triniti's parking lot will be transformed into a "club level-like" cheering section, complete with food, drinks and entertainment. The "Monday Night Mayhem" event will feature an outdoor 10x14 screen, as well as plenty of indoor screens.

Aside from the gridiron action, the real battle will be inside between local chefs as they showcase the ultimate in tailgate fare. For $49 a person, guests will be able to savor competing dishes and sip on craft beer and cocktails -- and all of the proceeds will benefit OKRA's upcoming Charity Bar as well as the Boys and Girl's Club.

The game-winning line-up of restaurant includes: Benjy's, Branch Water Tavern, Killen's Steakhouse, Soma, Underbelly/Hay Merchant, Roost, Sparrow and Triniti. Bobby Heugel, owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge and OKRA founder, will be overseeing a punch service with a special recipe for the event. Guests can also enjoy local beers from Karbach, No Label, Southern Star and Saint Arnold, as well as Crown Royal, Angel's Envy Bourbon and Aviation Gin cocktails. In addition, a special appearance by the Houston Texans cheerleaders will take center stage at the event.

You may think of the 1960s and 1970s when you think of fondue, but the warm pots of cheese may be on their way to a comeback. Further evidence of this will be available at Fondue Nation, America's largest fondue party, which is being celebrated simultaneously at every Murray's Cheese Shop in Kroger stores nationwide on December 15.

At every Kroger store in Houston (and beyond), you'll find cheese experts ready to show off Murray's classic combination of cheeses that make a fun holiday treat when melted together and served in a bowl. Guests will also have the chance to sign up to win the ultimate New York City weekend with Murray's, valued at more than $2,000, which includes two nights at Dream Downtown, dinner at Murray's Cheese Bar and a private tour of Murray's famous cheese caves. Fondue Nation runs from 2 to 6 p.m. this Saturday.

Anyone who's been to Haven knows that the restaurant features a soundtrack of all-Texas musicians, including Austin-based musician/guitarist Ian Moore. Now Moore is coming to Haven to serenade diners in person for a special one-night-only, live acoustic concert on Sunday, December 23. Guests will enjoy a three-course dinner starting at 6 p.m., with Moore performing at 8 p.m. The cost is $75 per person (not including tax, tip or beverages) and reservations are required.

If you're a fan of the classic Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life, then chef Michael Pellegrino has a treat for you at Max's Wine Dive this holiday season. The "It's a Wonderful Night" wine dinner at Max's will be held on the eve of Christmas Eve, December 23, and features a dinner made up of surprise courses, paired with handpicked wine perfect for the holiday. The cost is $75 a person or $250 for a table of for, and reservations are strongly recommended.

And if you haven't yet donated to Toys for Tots this year, Mo's - A Place for Steaks is giving you the perfect opportunity on Thursday, December 13. Bring one or more new, unwrapped toys to Mo's starting at 5 p.m. and enjoy live music and complimentary appetizers until 7 p.m. At the end of the evening, watch as the toys are loaded into a 25-foot truck for distribution by members of the U.S. Marine Corps and other volunteers.

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