Christmas is coming, do you know which beer to drink?
There is no one single style of Christmas beer, but brewers have long loved creating special brews for the yule season. Spices are common, dark malts are often used, and many Christmas beers have enough alcoholic punch to help settle your brain for a long winter’s nap.
Here’s a look at a few varieties of festive holiday beers.
The flavors of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices are as at home in a dark beer as they are in a Christmas cookie, and Belgian brewers are particularly adept at integrating these flavors into their strong dark ales. Their potent winter brews are a mandatory part of many craft beer fan’s holiday celebrations. Affligem Noel, St. Bernardis Christmas and Corsendonk Christmas are all popular examples of the Belgian Christmas ale that balance fruit, spice and high alcohol.
Locally, Monkish Brewing in Torrance has just released bottles of their Magnificat, a “Belgian-style Christmas ale with holiday spices: honey, coriander seed, sweet & bitter orange peels, nutmeg, cinnamon.”
Prefer something with less of the distinctive Belgian yeast character? Beachwood Brewing teamed up with Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works on the Ghost of Jacob Barley -- a near 10% alcohol winter warmer that uses beans from Portola Coffee Labs to complement the cinnamon in the brew.
Subdued, but still spiced, Eagle Rock Brewery’s holiday old ale, Jubilee, has less spice than in years past and the brew is nicely balanced and quaffable. (They also offer bottles of barrel-aged Jubilee in their tap room, and that is a festive beer indeed.)
Hop heads are not left out in the cold when it comes to Christmas brews. From the classic Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale -- a fresh hop IPA that for many craft fans heralds the arrival of the holiday season -- to AleSmith’s hoppy strong ale YuleSmith (that cheekily also sees a release in July), pioneering craft brewers have made hop-forward beers as much a part of the holiday season as spiced-brewed. And there seem to be more hoppy seasonal beers being released each winter.
Whether you choose a traditional Belgian Christmas beer, a spice-heavy craft brew or something rich and hoppy, there is a long list of nice options to celebrate the season.
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