It’s the Holiday season, so naturally I’m already shopped-out, haven’t even put up a tree yet, and am dreading the snow. Can you tell I love winter? The one thing that I do love this time of year is Christmas beers! With their fig, chocolate, fruit, and mostly boozy flavors they’re great for relaxing at home snowed in after a long day of making Christmas with friend and family.
While Mad Elf will always be my personal favorite, there are many more out there that are worth trying.
Every year this beer is an afterthought for me until I go to a party and they have it and I’m reminded how delicious it truly is. First brewed in 1981 (that’s older than me for the record), Celebration Ale is a very hop-forward holiday ale focusing on Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops that are well balanced by a teeny caramel malt undertone. Expect citrus and pine hop flavor in this one. It’s perfect to take to parties as it’s not sweet like most holiday-esque brews. Even your friends who are “just getting into IPAs” will love this brew.
Editor’s note: The 2014 version is outstanding. An editor favorite.
Total opposite of the above-mentioned Celebration Ale, Southern Tier 2XMAS is a very heavily spiced ale, or as they call it a Double Spiced Ale, has intense flavors of fig, orange, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. These winter spices scream Christmas at Gramma’s house. The brew was inspired a party where Glögg, a Scandinavian hot mulled wine, was served and matches it color-wise in a deep amber appearance. This beer definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy mulled wine or cider, gingerbread cookies, fruit cake, or anything cinnamon you better get you some.
This year marks the 40th (!!!) anniversary of Anchor’s Christmas Ale. If that’s not reason enough to give it a go this year, consider the following: Each year the recipe is a little different as is the iconic Christmas tree label. While James Stitt has been drawing the trees each year, this year’s version features a giant sequoia tree created to resemble what a giant tree planted 40 years ago would look like now. Also, it was chosen in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Act. Pretty sweet right? On top of it all, the hops and malts used in the brew are top secret, so without trying this year’s (yet) it’s hard to even predict the flavor. Based on previous years, it’s usually a dark, rich, Christmas-y ale that will leaving you guessing on that one thing you’re tasting that you can’t quite place.