Politely ignoring the fact that my dad called one of my favorite beers “crap,” I realized that I had been ignoring many other great holiday brews while spending all my time with Mad Elf. And, while I may love that beer for so many reasons, many people do not.
So, just in time for your holiday parties, I have a few suggestions to quench your thirst for a Christmas beer:
While I am not a fan of many of their year-round beers, Samuel Adams has been stepping up their game lately. This year I’ve seen two great new holiday beers popping up on tap around town: Merry Mischief and Chocolate Squirrel. Merry Mischief, a gingerbread stout, is quite similar to my Breakfast at Tierney’s homebrew. It has a great cinnamon and nutmeg flavor that is sure to remind you of gingerbread cookies straight off of the sheet in mom’s kitchen. The Chocolate Squirrel is going to be a lot harder to find, so grab one if you see it! It’s a lovely hot chocolate-esque brew reminiscent of one of my other favorites, Southern Tier Choklat.
When it comes to Christmas beers, no list would be complete without the fantastic array of Belgians. Stop by the Abbey Bar, Harrisburg’s home for Belgian beers, and be sure to grab a Delirium Noel, Corsendonk Christmas Ale or a St. Bernardus Christmas Ale. Be careful! Most of these lovely libations are pretty high in ABV in comparison to other beers. My Christmas is never complete without a Delirium Noel either Christmas Eve or Christmas day. It has a delicious bready and fig flavor with a little boozy finish that reminds me of Christmases past — and at 10% ABVit takes the edge off of the hustle and bustle of the day.
If IPAs are more your style, you’re in luck – there are hoppy Christmas beers too! Traditionally, winter warmers and holiday beers boast flavors like fig, chocolate, roasted malt, and are sweet overall, but that doesn’t mean you have to change your tastes. Local brewer, Millbock, has released the 12 Hops of Christmas, which you can find at Al’s of Hampden, The Peachtree, O’Reilly’s and The Batdorf. Also check out Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Rogue Yellow Snow IPA, or Abita Christmas Ale. All of which should provide you with the crisp hop flavor you crave.
Finally there are the old standbys that shouldn’t be overlooked: Fegley’s Rude Elf’s Reserve, ABC Grinnin Grizzley, Troegs Mad Elf, DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus (chocolate peanut butter porter!), Sam Adam’s Old Fezziwig, Schmaltz Jewbelation, 21st Amendment Fireside Chat, Anchor Merry Christmas, Long Trail Hibernator, Sly Fox Christmas Ale and Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza.