Christmas Beer

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas Beer

Christmas beer season is upon us. Unlike the conversation associated with the slew of pumpkin ales that arrive months before trick or treaters hit the streets, Christmas beers are largely well received. Partly, it might be because holiday beers are wildly diverse. In general, there is usually some level of earthy and warming spice involved, as well as robust malt. Some are hopped, some are aged, some are lagered, and some are all of those. Like gifts under a tree, there’s a little something for everyone. For ease, I’ve chosen to comment on beers that are available in most regions throughout the U.S. And, I’ve mentioned a few you know and a few you may not know. Cheers!

Unibroue La Résolution
ABV 10%

You may not have three French hens, but this sublime World Beer Award winner from Quebec is a gift that keeps on giving — an absolute exercise in delight. It’s a dark, warm-spiced ale with roasted sweet caramel and toffee malt. The combination of the sweet and spice reminds one of gingerbread, but a gingerbread made for a beer drinker.  However, as good as this beer is, the tantalizing — or is it torturous — lure of aging this beer will force you to make a decision. It’s the age-old dilemma — you can’t have your beer and age it, too.

Breckenridge Christmas Ale
ABV: 7.1%

Since 1993 — and well before any debate ensued over its ties to AB InBEV, Breckenridge Brewery has been churning out brews on the Colorado slopes, where a white Christmas is almost certain. Also certain, is the quality of Breckenridge Christmas Ale, brewed the same since Bill Clinton’s first term as President. To make a beer for that long, and have it be that successful (and you can buy it in its mini-keg form, too!), it must involve a winning recipe — and it does. Up front, one immediately notices the fresh-from-the –oven Christmas cookie spices, as well as a wonderful warming sensation. That’s followed by sweet caramel flavor and aroma. Something resembling dark fruit creeps into the picture, too. All in all, it’s a great go-to Christmas Brew that will please even the most stubborn of uncles.

Stiegl-Jahrgangsbier 2015: Sonnenkönig II, a Double Wit aged in Tequila Barrels.
ABV 9.5%

Photo Credit/Source:

Okay, maybe this isn’t technically a Christmas Beer, but it’s certainly great for the holidays, including New Year’s Eve festivities. Pours hazy golden with a flavor profile comprised of orange, coriander, and apricot plus the ever-present nature of tequila, which is extracted from the barrel aging. The booziness is matched by the overall malt-sweetness and the even stronger fruitiness. Although aged, there’s some carbonation left in the beer, which adds to the mouthfeel and balances out the sweetness and booziness. Forget fruit cake, or even a spiked rum cake, indulge in this fine looking and tasting brew.

Edit: The photo I planned to put on my Instagram account was lost during a phone update. [Insert angry face].

Deschutes Jubelale
ABV 6.7%

Jubelale — an annual celebration of the holidays with fine beer. Cheers @deschutesbeer !

A photo posted by Mathew Powers (@powers_mathew) on

With an IBU scoring 65, it’s pretty obvious that this Christmas Beer hails from Oregon, and what a beer it is. It’s won so many awards, it makes Michael Phelps’ trophy case look barren. The warm-spiced beer provides an array of flavors including dark chocolate, dried fruit, and toffee and a wonderful roasted barley malt rounds out the flavor well. Throw in Hops Bravo, Cascade, Delta, Tettnang, East Kent Goldings hops, and it has a nice bitterness kick, too. More than anything, it’s exceptionally easy drinking while still warming one’s gullet. It doesn’t matter how frightful the weather, Jubelale will provide that “sitting by an open fire” feeling each and every sip.

Avery Brewing Tweak
16.5% to 17.5% ABV (variable depending on the batch #)

Avery keeps hitting home runs. This 16% ABV, coffee-added #BBA Stout (#Tweak), is outstanding!

A photo posted by Mathew Powers (@powers_mathew) on

Tweak is ostensibly Avery’s soon-to-be-retired Mephistopheles Imperial Stout (it shares the same grain bill), but it’s hopped differently and has the addition of coffee. Aged for four months, Tweak provides a smooth-as-silk mouthfeel and terrific balance of booziness and sweet malt, with coffee existing as a secondary player (but certainly noticeable). It will hit the palate “hot” and immediately pave the way for the olfactory system to open, which allows one to fully enjoy the bourbon-aging and oak. There’s also a hint of what seems like vanilla in the background that smooths the rough edges of this robust brew a bit. All in all, it’s a powerful beer that’s full of finesse. Spectacular! Now, is it a Christmas beer? Well, no. But give this beer as a gift to a beer geek, and you will make his or her day!

Mathew Powers

Mathew Powers

Forever part of the Sommbeer family, Matt's journey from beer geek to beer writer has included regular contributions to Chilled Magazine,, and his blog, "A Pint of Chicago," for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. He's also published non-beer-related items on various magazines, "webzines," and Ebooks. But, Sommbeer was, is, and always will be his home.
Mathew Powers