The Top 10 Christmas Beers
|Image courtesy of bruisin-ales.com|
Christmas is everyone's favorite holiday, but true beer fans know that the most wonderful time of the year is made even more wonderful with a pint in your hand. Winter warmers and other dark, comforting brews take over around the holidays to help carolers and Christmas tree shoppers thaw out after a chilly night. If you can only open one present on Christmas morning, make it one of these beers: the ten best you'll find this season.
1. Anchor Our Special Ale
To our knowledge, there's no beer out there that tastes more like Christmas than Anchor's winter warmer. Though the beer's recipe changes every year, the result is always an incredible holiday potpourri of spicy cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and pine. The brewers at Anchor have been cooking this masterpiece since 1975, and like the beer's recipe, the tree on the label changes every year. This year it's the Ginkgo Biloba, symbolizing the winter solstice when the earth appears born anew -- much like you'll feel after your first sip.
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2. Sierra Nevada Celebration
Though Sierra Nevada's been brewing this winter seasonal for over a decade, much confusion still surrounds Celebration. So many drinkers were perplexed by the style of this 6.8 percent ABV India pale ale the brewery recently added the phrase "Fresh Hop Ale" to the label to clear everything up. While you won't find Christmas spices in this brew, you will find a fantastic display of citrusy American hops amidst a toasty backbone of caramel malt. It's good enough that the San Francisco Chronicle called it the best beer ever made in America.
3. Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi
You know the story: three kings, following a star in the sky, each brought a gift for the baby they sought. One of them brought gold and the other two woefully underpacked and gave the kid frankincense and myrrh. Lost Abbey's Christmas seasonal takes cues from this tale -- it's gold in color, bittered with the bark of frankincense, and even makes use of myrrh, an herb that has roots in ancient winemaking. The result is a funky, herbal, 9.5 percent Biere de Garde that would've been a much better gift for those other two kings to bring along.
4. Delirium Noel
You could buy Delirium Noel based on the outstanding reputation of the Huyghe Brewery's flagship, Delirium Tremens. You could also buy it for the fantastic flavors of candy sugar, plums, white raisins and rum-macerated apricots this dark, 10 percent ABV Belgian ale delivers. Or you could buy it for the same reason we find ourselves picking up a bottle every year: there's just no resisting a pink elephant in a Santa hat.
5. Deschutes Jubelale
Much like beautiful wrapping paper enhances the gifts under your tree, the artwork adorning the label of Jubelale makes the beer that much better. For the past 16 years, Deschutes has selected a local Oregon artist to create an image evocative of the season's festive atmosphere. This year bottles are decorated with Oregon artist Natasha Bacca's unique "Creation of Light," a piece she says illustrates a cold winter night in the background with a dynamic warm fire in the foreground. Beautiful as the wrapping is, you'll like the present inside even more -- flavors of cocoa, dark caramel, raisins and pine make this winter warmer a gift worth savoring.