Well, the time is finally upon us. After all the worrying, running around and online shopping, the time has come to wrap all the gifts and hopefully relax a bit. There are few better ways to relax around the holidays than with great craft beers, but what beers are the best?
Sure, we all have personal preferences this time of year. Some of us have begun our switch to bigger and darker beers while others have a standard go-to throughout the year. However, there are some great craft beers that are brewed with the holidays in mind that will not only go great with all the food being consumed, but will also continue to impart a warm holiday feeling throughout the day.
Here is a short list of great beers to have on hand to help make the holiday a lot more beery, er, sorry, cheery!
Hardywood Craft Brewery – Gingerbread Stout: Hardywood has built quite a reputation in recent years and it all began with this world class beer. This imperial milk stout has a smooth and creamy body with a wonderful punch of gingerbread spices with fresh honey imparting the perfect amount of sweetness. There aren’t enough words to describe how incredible this beer is so instead grab yourself a few bottles and enjoy this beer to its fullest. Also, be on the lookout for Hardywood’s Christmas Morning which is Gingerbread Stout conditioned with fresh coffee beans!
Southern Tier Brewing Company- 2XMAS: Southern Tier actually based the recipe for 2XMAS on a traditional Swedish Glögg recipe which is a spiced red wine served traditionally during winter, especially around the holidays. Notes of figs, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger abound in a silky smooth body that is a perfect beer to enjoy while relaxing by the fireplace once all the gifts are opened.
Ninkasi Brewing Company- Sleigh’R: Sleigh’R not only has a phenomenal name and logo that any metalhead would appreciate, but this 7.2 percent ABV altbier has perfect balance and a high drinkability factor. The altibier style is in the lager family and is best described as a German take on the brown ale style with sweet malts. This double alt has a big malt factor, but is not cloyingly sweet and is the perfect match for all the Christmas cakes and cookies sitting around the house!
Sam Adams – Holiday Porter: This holiday porter style is perfect with its rich roasty character and subtle sweetness. The 5.8 percent ABV also makes this a great beer for repeat visits throughout the day. The wonderful notes of coffee and chocolate are the perfect counterpoint to the earthy hops found within making this American Porter a must try for all fans of dark beers.
St. Bernardus- Christmas Ale: Not only one of the best beers for the Christmas season, but, simply put, it is one of the best beers in the world. The wonderful Belgian yeast aromas settle with a great malt backbone that has the perfect touches of sweetness while still maintaining balance. Also, at 10 percent ABV, just one of these will make you very merry for the Christmas season.
Corsendonk- Christmas Ale: Corsendonk has brewed a wonderfully complex beer for Christmas that can be appreciated by beer lovers and craft beer newbies a like. Notes of Belgian yeast, clove, anise, cinnamon, ginger, cherries, plums and touches of sweet chocolate melt into one another for a truly unique and awe inspiring beer. A must try beer for all Belgian beer lovers!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.