After all the worrying, running around and online shopping, the time has come to wrap all the gifts and hopefully relax. There are few better ways to relax around the holidays than with a great craft beer, but what beers are best?
We all have personal preferences this time of year; some of us have begun our switch to bigger and darker beers. Others have a standard go to throughout the year. There are great craft beers brewed with the holidays in mind that go great with all the food being consumed.
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’s Gingerbread Stout: Hardywood has built quite a reputation 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 grab a few bottles and enjoy this beer to its fullest. Be on the lookout for Hardywood’s Christmas Morning which is Gingerbread Stout conditioned with fresh coffee beans!
Southern Tier Brewing Company’s 2XMAS: Southern Tier based the recipe for 2XMAS on a traditional Swedish Glögg recipe which is a spiced red wine traditionally served during winter, especially around the holidays. Notes of figs, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger abound in a silky smooth body, perfect to enjoy while relaxing by the fireplace.
Ninkasi Brewing Company’s Sleigh’R: Here’s a phenomenal beer with a great name and logo any metalhead would appreciate. 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’ Old Fezziwig: This winter warmer is a traditional beer for many. It’s perfect with its rich character and subtle sweetness. The 5.9 percent ABV makes this a great beer for repeat visits throughout the day. The wonderful notes of toffee, caramel, ginger and hints of oranges are the perfect counterpoint to the earthy hops found within making this winter warmer. Old Fezziwig is one of Sam Adams most beloved seasonals and it is a go to beer during the holidays.
St. Bernardus’ Christmas Ale: One of the best beers for the Christmas season. The wonderful Belgian yeast aromas settle with a great malt backbone that has the perfect touches of sweetness while still maintaining balance. At 10 percent ABV, just one of these will make you very merry.
No matter what you celebrate, or how you celebrate it be sure to do it safely. Do not use these beers as an opportunity to escape from family members, but as a bonding experience to discuss the wonders of craft beer. After all, turning someone onto craft beer could be as cousin Eddie so perfectly said “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Happy holidays everyone!
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.