Beer is a beverage that brings people together all year round, even more so in the holiday season. People buy beer to give as gifts, to celebrate time with friends and family, and even to help them tolerate their loved ones during the holidays. Since beer has so many roles to play this time of year, I figured I’d suggest some great Winter beers with help from some of my fellow craft beer fanatics to help accomplish these things and keep you from being a Grinch!
10 Holiday beer suggestions that are sure to tickle even Santa pink:
Mind you, this list isn’t in a particular order, ranking favorites. It’s simply a list of 10 holiday beers that people in the craft beer community think is worthy of your toasts this season. Let’s start with some local lovin’.
1 Terrapin Wake ‘N’ Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout- Ale Sharpton’s pick for holiday beer: “The winter is the best time for beer in my opinion. Ales are warming, have some muscle and promotes a lot of barrel aging and experimentation regarding the use of fruit, coffee, chocolate, and other ingredients in particularly stouts, my favorite style during this season. Bourbon County Stout [Goose Island] is my sh*t, but I am going to show local love with the Terrapin Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. It’s gangster with the java this year thanks to neighbor coffee slinger Jittery Joe’s, and at 8.1 percent ABV, only a roaring fireplace can warm me up quicker! Happy Holidays!” – Ale Sharpton
2 New Belgium Frambozen- New Belguim’s Frambozen is a Brown Ale brewed with raspberries. Some people have confused this brew with a Lambic or Sour style of beer which is a popular style for Peter Bouckaert, Brewmaster at New Belgium, to brew in the “Lips of Faith” series. However, this beer is not a Sour. Frambozen or Framboise is the addition of raspberries to a Lambic base. However, Frambozen doesn’t necessarily mean the beer is a Kriek or Lambic style. Like in this case, Frambozen can also have a Brown Ale as a base beer making it a Fruit Beer. New Belgium’s Frambozen changes slightly every year, but is a 6.5% ABV seasonal they only brew for the Winter months. Switch up your dessert plate this year for this sweet and satisfying brew!
3 SweetWater Happy Ending- Beer Geek ATL went local and suggested this beer with a few other locals for your holiday fun. “As a lover of rich and dark beer, my most anticipated Winter brew is SweetWater Happy Ending Imperial Stout. Each year, I cellar some Happy Ending to enjoy throughout the year. (For the past four years, I have toasted the New Year with an aged Happy Ending.)”
“Some other beers for cold weather and long nights that I enjoy are Terrapin Wake ‘N’ Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout, and Red Brick Winter Brew [aka: Long John Ale] Belgian Dark Ale. Both of these brews will age well, and a three-year-old Winter Brew is exceptionally complex and tasty.” – BeerGeek ATL, Eric Thornton
4 Highland Cold Mountain- This Winter warmer is a favorite for many of my craft beer friends. Weighing in at 5.8% ABV, this Winter Ale will leave you so spiced up you’ll want to drink it again and again. Every sip is filled with sweet hints of vanilla, cinnamon and a variety of spices. Cold Mountain is a sessionable Winter Ale that you can kick back and enjoy by the fire place or become a part of the party singing Christmas carols.
5 Bell’s Expedition Stout- Burnt Hickory’s Head Brewer Taylor Yates isn’t the biggest fan of Christmas beers full of spices and all that “stuff”, but he loves Imperial Stouts “that are only available when it’s cold outside.” Just like presents under the tree, the bigger the better at Bell’s. This Imperial sits at 10.5% ABV and is a perfect 100 to the pros like Taylor. Let this special gift sit in a cellar for a while and wait for the complexity of this stout to grow.
6 Goose Island Mild Winter- Mild Winter is the best excuse you can use for a run to a local bar during the holidays given this beer is only available on tap in Georgia. This malt bomb is a beer to jump on with its limited release in the GA market. Fill your Willi glass with this toffee colored beer boasting caramel and mild spice flavors and the bitter winter chill will melt away!
7 Southern Tier Old Man Winter- This holiday beer fave was from a local home brewer, Jonathan Parker. For the holidays he brewed, a Red Ale with cranberries. Since you can’t purchase Parker’s brews at a store this Christmas, he suggests Southern Tier Old Man Winter for the perfect holiday beer. This is his favorite holiday brew “because it is an all around good winter time beer. I love the citrus notes from the hops. It really makes you feel like you are drinking Christmas in a bottle. It’s not too sweet and not too overpowering for an ale. Drinking one now. Merry Christmas!” – Jonathan Parker
8 Abita Christmas Ale – Being a Saints fan with family from New Orleans, I have to throw some support to Louisiana’s very own Abita Christmas Ale. This frothy Brown Ale brings in the holidays at a sessionable 5.5% ABV and surprising mild hop note to compliment the herbal body. A great stocking stuffer beer for all to enjoy with their holiday meals or to pop open first thing in the morning while some of us ladies make mimosas to open presents.
9 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale- A craft beer geek and one of Taco Mac’s best servers, Kanan Pandya, gave her vote to a Christmas classic. The fresh hopped Celebration Ale helped craft the American style IPA. “Celebration is a wonderful Christmas beer with just the right amount of fresh hop. The citrus and pine flavors really give a strong note to the beer. Honestly, it’s the perfect beer to have a spiced pie, family and a fire.” -Kanan Pandya
10 De Struise Tsjeeses Reserva- This brew is last on the list only because it will be the hardest to get your paws on.This beer is my ALL time favorite Christmas Ale. It is a Belgian beer that is a little harder to find given it is a holiday brew and is brewed on rotation. It’s also not currently being brewed so the availability is limited, but get your hands on it and you’ll light up brighter than Rudolph’s nose on Christmas Eve. This beer is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale that comes in at 10% ABV and rates exceptionally not only in my book, but Beer Advocate’s as well.
There’s the list of sassy and sweet, classic Christmas hopped, and don’t forget the dark and rich beers for your holiday needs. Whether it be drowning your sorrows because the in-laws are in town, poppin’ bottles to celebrate holiday cheer or choosing a brew to get some rest and relaxation after it’s all over with, I think we got you covered. Cheers for Beer and more importantly, Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
Nicole, Zak and little man Bennett