The 12 Beers Of Christmas!
On the 1st Beer Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me …
Okay, I did steal the idea for this months feature from the song, you probably figured that out, but it was the inspiration.
So, the idea is to talk about 12 beers that I feel represent the holiday season.
Just keep in my mind that this is NOT a ranking, although I will number 1 through 12 … So, let’s get started by saying MERRY CHRISTMAS … and here we go!
#1 Sierra Nevada Celebration
The classic Fresh Hop IPA, a holiday favorite for me. First brewed in 1981, heck, I didn’t know what an IPA was back in ’81. This wonderful classic IPA usually comes out just before Thanksgiving but is great through the entire holiday season and a must for any craft beer lover.
There are slight differences from year to year, but every year is incredible.
6.5% ABV 65 IBU’s
She pours a beautiful light copper with a rocky tan head that seems to linger eternally.
They describe intense citrus and pine aromas and by golly, they’re right!
I should also mention that I’m using the Sierra Nevada IPA glass and the lacing is just spectacular.
Orange & grapefruit highlight the intense citrus portion with bright, fresh & herbal pine surrounding the big malt notes, which are equally intense. Using 2 row and caramel malts, you’ll get notes of light brown sugar. It’s aromatically stunning.
The flavor of orange zest shines through immediately, accented by grapefruit and then … wow! As big as the hoppage is, the malt is equally huge. Big malt and light brown sugar tickle the taste buds until that pine comes at you in a great big finish with it all just lingering slightly until it all dries up in a beautiful crescendo.
This one typically comes out around Thanksgiving and should be enjoyed throughout the holiday season.
#2 Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome
What can I say, it’s a classic!
They describe it as having a full body and a luxurious malt character balanced by Fuggle and Golding hops.
Well, when they’re right, they’re right!
A hint of malt sweetness on the nose surrounded by the earthy and herbal hops.
A rich and luxurious body as previously described, followed by a toffee like sweetness before the hops come together and clean it all up.
Sometimes, a classic is a classic for a reason and seasonal beers don’t get any better than this one.
#3 KC Bier Co Winter Bock
An 8.25% Doppelbock and a more faithful American Craft interpretation you will not find.
Malty sweet, chocolate and caramel are dominant but don’t completely overshadow the clean earthy hop finish.
And through it all are wonderful hazelnut notes.
In a hop-centric craft beer world, malty masterpieces like a Doppelbock get overlooked, but this style is ideal for your winter/holiday/Christmas pleasure and they don’t get better than this one!
#4 Anthony’s Pacification Russian Imperial Stout by Public House Brewing
Coming in @ 10% 70 IBU’s, this is a superb American craft stab at the classic Russian Imperial Stout.
A perfect style for those cold winter nights, huddling around the fireplace or dancing naked around the Christmas tree … what? Okay, maybe that’s just me, regardless this one is rich & malty and I can’t help but think what barrel aging would do this already amazing beer.
#5 Goose Island Bourbon County Bourbon Stout!
Oh Geez Louise, I went through a lot of inner turmoil deciding whether or not to include this one, but like it or not, it is a holiday classic.
I refuse to stand in line for any beer, but luckily I was able to find it easily, just sitting on a shelf.
I purchased this beer religiously before the AB-InBev
Having said all of that, this is The Classic Bourbon Barrel Stout and no Christmas beer list would be complete without it.
#6 “Brown Shugga” from Lagunitas
10% 51.1 IBU’s, they describe it as a “Special Ale” that uses brown sugar, but it’s so much more than that.
Rich, malty and intensely hoppy, it’s a beer that defies style, which is sort of what Lagunitas does.
It is a tad boozy, but not so much as to be off-putting. Just enough to make you feel warm & fuzzy all over to put you in the Christmas spirit.
#7 Mother’s “Nudie Suit” Porter
A 5.5% American Craft Robust Porter. Stunning to look at in the glass, with a head that seems to linger on forever.
Oh, the porter, luscious and delicious, decadent but not too heavy and perfect to pair with almost any holiday meal.
This one is chocolate and more chocolate, more specifically, malted chocolate with just hints of vanilla and toffee. A “feel good” beer if there ever was one.
#8 Boulevard Whiskey Barrel Stout
Oh, Cheez Whiz! WOW, 11.8% of whiskey barrel stout goodness.
Now, since the BCBS is already on here, this may seem redundant, but can you really have too many Whiskey Barrel Stouts? I think not!
Viscous, yet silky smooth with the Whiskey notes flowing through every sip.
Beers like this make winter tolerable.
#9 Ballast Point Peanut Butter Victory At Sea!
A 10% Imperial Porter that uses coffee and, on their bottle,”other natural flavors”, for the purposes of this list though, we’ll refer to it as an adjunct porter.
A combination of coffee, peanut butter and a smidgen of vanilla and a touch of chocolate permeate the nose with coffee being dominant.
To boil it down to the simplest, the flavors are that of possibly the very best
#10 Springfield BrewCo Tsarry Night Variant
Ah yes, the “Variant”, taking an existing beer, chucking stuff in it so you can charge much more, err … I mean, make it more valuable, in beer geek speak.
Obviously, I like Imperial stouts and anything barrel aged during this holiday season, but frankly I’m not a fan of these fruit flavors added to beer as a whole, so why is this one on the list? Because it’s good!
Also though, because these particular flavors also fit the Christmas season.
The rub here though is although I’m usually a bigger fan of the base beer, in the case of the
Then the Bourbon barrel does what it does, adding light whiskey notes with hints of vanilla and caramel, but where you feel it most is in the brilliant oaky finish.
What this beer says to me is, in the immortal words of the Peanuts gang
#11 The Bruery 11 Pipers Piping
A Scotch style ale brewed with candi sugar and coriander and comes in at 11%.
Deep malt, a tad sweet highlighted by dark fruit with the herbal intensity of coriander in the finish.
A warm and cozy beer sure to make you feel happy all over with ideal flavors for the Christmas season.
#12 Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Well, it says it’s an IPA anyway, but I think its alter ego is that of a barleywine. However, I must note that this is the 2017 Vintage.
Weighing in at somewhere between 15-20% ABV and according to their website it’s 120 IBU’s.
Malty sweet on the nose, but surprisingly, there is still citrus hop notes remaining.
It’s clearly drifted more towards an American barleywine, but the IPA foundation isn’t completely lost.
Somehow, I managed to hang on to this one from last year so I thought is should be on the list. Not necessarily for the style, but as an accidentally aged beer which happens to me from time to time.
Well, there it is, my 12 Beers of Christmas!
Not intended as a 12 Best or even a 12 Must Try, but rather 12 Beers that I’ve enjoyed this Christmas season.
So, Merry Christmas and Cheers from me, The Beer Whisperer!