Last updated: December 18. 2013 2:08AM - 883 Views
By Derek Warren Weekender Correspondent

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The looming holiday season is growing ever closer and, along with it, the overwhelming stress of shopping and everything else that comes along with the season. However, here is a list that can help take away some of that stress and serves a dual purpose: it can be used either as a shopping list for the craft beer lover in your life or a go-to list of beers to try to help alleviate the holiday stress. Whatever you choose, this list is a great way to help spread some holiday cheer.

1. Tröegs Brewing Company - Mad Elf: This is the sought-after holiday beer, and we are lucky enough to have it brewed in our own backyard in Hershey. This beer is very difficult to pigeonhole into one style category, but it would best be described as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale; however, it is so much more than that. The heavy notes of honey, cherry, Belgian yeast, subtle spicing, and chocolate malt combine to create a beer that contains all the best that the holiday season has to offer in one glass – not to mention the whopping 11 percent ABV. Mad Elf can certainly help take the edge off this season.

2. Sam Adams - Old Fezziwig Ale: Taking its name from a character in “A Christmas Carol,” Old Fezziwig Ale truly has the spirit of the holidays at heart. This winter warmer has a lot of subtleties locked within that reveal themselves as you drink and notice the rich malt character. This character creates notes of sweet toffee, caramel, and chocolate while classic holiday spices like cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel dance on the tongue, bringing with them the festive spirit of the season. Old Fezziwig is a must-have every year.

3. Brouwerij Corsendonk - Corsendonk Christmas Ale: The Corsendonk brewery first opened its doors in 1398 but was forced to end operations under the rule of Austrian Emperor Joseph II in 1784. Thankfully for us, they reopened the doors and have been making world class beer ever since. This rich Belgian Dark Strong Ale has notes of dark fruits, toffee, caramel, and bitter cocoa, and as it warms up, it begins to have some tastes similar to a nice cognac. One drink of this and you will have no doubt why the Corsendonk brewery simply had to reopen.

4. Brouwerij Huyghe - Delirium Noël: The bottle alone for this holiday brew will put you in the holiday spirit with its pink elephant adorned with a red Santa cap. Inside you will find delicious brown ale spiced with notes of gingerbread as well as Belgian yeast and candy sugar. This full-bodied ale hits the 10 percent ABV mark and is certainly a beer to warm up with on these cold winter evenings. Delirium is perhaps best known for its Tremens, but Noël is another feather in the cap for this fantastic Belgian brewer.

5. Rogue Ales - Santa’s Private Reserve: This deep, amber-colored ale explodes with hop aromas, with notes of citrus and pine being the most dominant. The sweet malt bill and fantastic Pacman yeast, the Rogue house yeast, create a wonderful Christmas-themed beer that Santa himself has on his wish list. This is a Santa that you would not mind coming into your house while you sleep; it’s just a shame that he only comes around once a year.

6. AleSmith Brewing Company - YuleSmith (Winter): AleSmith produces two differing versions of this beer: one for summer and one for winter. The winter version is an extremely hop-forward red ale that explodes with hops in the aroma and flavor, but still remains extremely well-balanced and drinkable. The juicy citrus and pine hop flavors meld perfectly with the sweet malt bill and still manage to finish dry. It’s a brew that’s perfect for this holiday season, to enjoy alone or with friends.

7. Southern Tier Brewing Company - Krampus: Each holiday season in Europe, as Santa delivers presents to all the good boys and girls, his sidekick Krampus is left to dole out punishments to all those who did not fare so well during the year; be thankful for that stocking full of coal. Keeping with that spirit, Southern Tier has created an Imperial Helles Lager that can be both a reward and a punishment if you indulge in too much of this 9 percent ABV behemoth. The crisp hop flavor and aroma is present throughout, while still remaining a smooth, easy-drinking Helles Lager, a fantastic addition to any holiday beer lineup.

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