I love Christmas (more than most people) and I love craft beer so of course my favorite style is winter and holiday beers. Here is my list of the 12 days of Christmas and the holiday activities to pair.
12) Our Special Ale (Christmas Ale) – Anchor Brewing – San Francisco, CA
Winter Pairing: Decorating the Christmas Tree
Each year is completely different. My personal favorite over the last three years has been 2011. Lots of gingerbread, chocolate, and root beer (sassafras) character. This is a beer I wanted to bottle age and revisit each December. Good start to the season!
11) Abominable Winter Ale – Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) – Portland, OR
Winter Pairing: Obviously watching “The Abominable Snowman”
This beer has a special place in my heart because for our honeymoon we visited Portland for beer travel. (I know…) We feel in love with Hopworks Brewing and especially the abominable winter ale. Hopworks doesn’t distribute in CA so we go through some trouble each year to get it, but it always reminds us of our holiday beer honeymoon.
10) Biere de Noel Holiday Ale – Big Sky Brewing – Missoula, MT
Winter Pairing: Hanging Christmas lights, you’ll need a higher ABV in the cold
This beer was a new one for me this year. Limited production and bottle numbered. 3240 made in 2012. Labeled a Belgian Dark Ale, didn’t find much “Belgian” quality, but good holiday/raisin spices. Heavy at 10%. Glad to have tried it.
9) Organic Gingerbread Ale – Bison Brewing – Berkeley, CA
Winter Pairing: Decorating your Gingerbread House
This satisfies my gingerbread fix every time. I have grown to love Bison Brewing. Their Honey Basil is one of the most interesting and favorite beers of mine. Great, easy drinking holiday beer.
8) Winter Lager – Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) – Boston, MA
Winter Pairing: Baking holiday cookies
This beer also has some nostalgia. It was one of my “gate way” beers to craft beer before I even knew what craft beer meant. Sam Adams has continued to grow, but they release a holiday pack each year that is a good start to getting into craft beer.
7) Ebenezer Ale – BridgePort Brewing – Portland, OR
Winter Pairing: Watching “A Christmas Carol” of course.
A winter warmer with malty character and lite hops. Probably wouldn’t have tried this if Untappd didn’t have a badge promotion. Festive name and a good winter beer for the price. Will defiantly drink every Christmas.
6) Santa’s Little Helper – Port Brewing – San Marcos, CA
Winter Pairing: Rewatching Simpson holiday episodes, especially when they find “santa’s little helper”
Imperial Stouts are just so good during this time of year. The heavier, richer and roister the better. This beer hits all the right spots. Snuggle up with fire and Santa’s Little Helper and you will be set for the holidays.
5) Winter Solstice – Anderson Valley Brewing – Boonville, CA
Winter Pairing: watching “snow” Christmas movies like “The Holiday”
Creamy winter warmer with tons of holiday spices. I just want to snuggle up with a fire, my loved one, and this beer watching holiday movies. This beer puts me right in the Christmas spirit.
4) Christmas Ale – St. Bernardus – Belgium
Winter Pairing: Cooking and eating Dungeness crab, California Christmas activity!
I tried this beer for the first time this year and instantly fell in love. This beer has a wonderful balance at 10% with a creamy body and fruity characteristics. I never thought I would like fruit aromas in my beer, but this just works. An excellent Christmas choice.
3) Fireside Chat – 21st Amendment Brewery San Francisco, CA
Winter Pairing: Sitting by the fire soaking up Christmas cheer!
A beer I half thought about purchasing and so glad I did because it is now one of my favorite Christmas beers. Smooth body with lots of Christmas spices; cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Solid winter warmer.
2) Mad Elf – Troegs Brewing – Hershey, PA
Winter Pairing: Christmas Eve night cap, you want to get a good nights sleep.
East Coast cult holiday beer. So glad I have family on the east coast to snag/save me some each year. It sells out fast. 11% beligan syle ale, but so drinkable with honey and cherry addition. Defiantly a holiday night cap.
1) Celebration Ale – Sierra Nevada Brewing – Chico, CA
Winter Pairing: Christmas Dinner
One of my absolute favorite holiday beers and Sierra Nevada’s most popular seasonal. Last year we took a holiday road trip to taste Celebration at the source. I highly suggest this trip and you can hit 3 other breweries along the way. Great presence of hops with holiday spices.