Now that Thanksgiving is over we can begin to discuss Christmas. And what’s my favorite part of Christmas? Why, the brew of course!
Living in Miami, you don’t get to see the seasons change all that often. It’s hot most of the year with about four, and I use the term loosely, cold days a year. In my humble opinion, one of the easiest ways of determining the season is by checking what beers your local liquor store has in stock.
Below is the first half of my favorite 12 Beers of Christmas!
1. Southern Tier 2XMAS – I’d have to start out this list with a favorite of mine. This beer tastes like a Christmas tree to me. I know, you’re thinking two things to yourself. First, that doesn’t sound very appealing and second, how do I know what a Christmas tree tastes like? Both are valid questions and I’m glad you’re thinking progressively.
First off, this beer is delicious! And second, I’m fairly confident that I’ve either swallowed or inhaled tree needles after setting up Christmas trees in my home for as long as I was able to pick one up.
This beer is made in the spirit of a Swedish Glogg but it’s considered a Double Spiced Ale. It comes in at a substantial 8% alcohol by volume (ABV) and the aroma wafts off like you’re walking past a Christmas tree lot; it’s very piney. The taste is sweet with figs, cloves and hops. The beer pours out a dark ruby color that’s just delicious.
2. Gouden Carolus Noël – Also known as Gouden Carolus Christmas, this is one of the quintessential Belgian Christmas beers. The norm for the ABV of these beers tends to be high, and this one comes in at 10% ABV. You’ll definitely want to share this with friends.
Brewed in the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, this is a very sweet beer that in my opinion should be warmed a little bit before drinking. The beer pours a shadowy red color and is a bit boozy to taste. I mean who doesn’t love a boozy taste to their beers?
3. Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer – I always like to include a local in my beer lists and this one is definitely a favorite. Brewed in Tampa, in the style of a Winter Warmer, Cigar City cleverly named this beer Warmer Winter. Winter Warmers are an ale style of beer that tends to be sweet, malty, high in ABV and dark, though not as heavy as a porter or stout.
This beer packs a whopping 11% ABV and has a dark amber to brown color when poured. To me the aroma comes off as sweet and citrusy, which is odd for a Winter Warmer, but not for a beer produced from Florida. The taste is sweet and syrupy but is cut by a little bit of the citrus that was smelled earlier.
As it’s brewed in Florida, you may have a harder time acquiring this beer if you don’t live in a state where they’re distributed.
4. Samuel Adams Merry Maker – A readily available beer from the Boston Brewing Company is the Samuel Adams Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout. This beer comes in at a slightly above common ABV of 9% and has the same smell of opening a box of gingerbread cookies. You can definitely taste the ginger and cinnamon in the beer but I always think to myself that I wish there was more of it. Being a Milk Stout, it’s already sweet to begin, but when you add the ginger and cinnamon you can definitely taste a gingerbread cookie in your mouth. When pouring the beer you can expect it to be dark due to it being a stout.
5. Anchor Christmas Ale – One of the most popular Christmas beers around. Each year Anchor produces a different recipe for their batch of Christmas Ale, which is also known as Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. 2014 marks the 40th year that Anchor brewing has been brewing and bottling this beer.
Because the beer recipe and ingredients changes every year, there isn’t much that stays the same. What does stay the same is definitely the sweet piney taste. This year’s batch comes out with an average ABV of 5.5% and pours out a dark brown color that is still sweet to taste.
6. Southern Tier Krampus – Krampus is considered a Christmas beer even though its style, an Imperial Helles Lager, is not known as being a Christmas/winter style. Brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company, Krampus is a Christmas character that’s an enforcer, counter character or companion to Santa Claus. And just as Krampus is known in parts of Germany, so is the Helles Lager.
It’s no surprise then that this beer pours a very bright amber color, as helles is German for bright or light. This beer comes in at a strong 9% ABV, so you’d probably want to split a bottle with a friend or a loved one. When pouring the beer, you can definitely smell the sweetness of it with hints of citrus. The beer tastes less sweet but you can definitely taste more of the citrus, which is coming from the hops.
Sweetwater Festive Ale
Rogue Ales Santa’s Private Reserve
Lump of Coal
Samuel Smith Winter Warmer
Abita Christmas Ale
You can find the last of the 12 Beers of Christmas next week. Till then, pick up a few of these and try them out. Let me know how you liked them. Cheers!
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