This article was originally published on 12/15/2015
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but a well crafted brew is so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, seasonal beer seasonal beer seasonal beer. Ok maybe that’s not the best rendition of a classic Christmas song but I’ve never claimed to be a lyricist. As I write this we are only a handful of days away from Christmas, the gift list almost completed and I’m on the tail end of my first of 3 family gatherings. Aiding in the festivities is a plethora of food and deserts and of course a bevy of Christmas beers ready to inject the fridge with holiday cheer.
What makes a good Christmas beer? Much like the pumpkin craze and the highly anticipated root beer fad that we’re sure to see next summer it seems like every brewery has some offering that’s only out around the holidays. The truly unique thing about holiday beers is there really doesn’t seem to be a consensus of what qualifies a beer as a holiday beer. Holiday beers range from low to high on the ABV scale. Scottish ales and IPA’s share the same section of shelf space with winter warmers and Belgian strong ales. Some of these beers are fantastic and have earned their way in to the fridge annually as part of the holiday tradition, while others taste like someone blended a batch of figgy pudding with cinnamon and a Heineken.
Blending beer with pudding sounds terrible but the wide variety of Holiday beer is really a great thing. All of us have different family traditions and different upbringings, especially when it comes to holiday traditions. Holiday beers have become part of my annual Christmas tradition. Beers like “Celebration Ale” from Sierra Nevada and “Christmas Ale” by Bell’s are just as much a part of the seasons festivities as ham and Christmas cookies. These festive brews have made their way into the holiday fridge and effectively given eggnog the boot.
Other Christmas beers are newer and maybe don’t have as much tradition around them but still find their way into the beer fridge for the holiday season. “3 Scrooges” from Griffin Claw is another great beer that has become a part of our holiday celebration as well. The sweet and malty brew that is spiced appropriately is a perfect companion for mid day snacking of delectable treats. Plus the can has a fun enough label to keep around the house as part of the Christmas decorations, definitely an added benefit.
So what makes a great Christmas beer? Is it loading up with cinnamon and nutmeg spices? Or maybe a made to be drank fresh wet hop IPA that’s fresh, crisp and refreshing? Both answers are correct. The holidays, much like beer, are supposed to be fun. Sure, just like any other style of beer you’re going to like some of them more than others, but holiday beers are best when you enjoy them with your family and loved ones. So whether you love a classic winter warmer to cozy up by a fire and play games with siblings, or a beer that has found its way into your annual line up each season to pair with your favorite Christmas movie have fun with these brews. Seasonal beers can be overwhelming, and so can the holiday season; but a great holiday beer will make sure that when our cheeks are nice and rosy we can be comfy cozy sharing a winter warmer for two.