#ChristmasAle – PorchDrinking.com
Thanks to the amazing array of barrel-aged brews and hearty ales available in December, many of us are growing bellies that even the man at the North Pole would be proud of. While many of us don our own red hats and honor the big man with our own gift-giving exploits, it feels like Santa might be extra stressed this year for a myriad of people-produced reasons. I’m sure Santa still appreciates a good batch of cookies and a tall glass of milk, but this year, I think Mr. Claus might appreciate something with more of a bite to quell his nerves during the big night. Here’s a look at six beers that are sure to put you on the nice list with Santa Claus this year.
ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 30
My friends who know me well know that I love food and I love to cook. From trying different restaurants or expanding my tastes with different cuisines to just staying in and making something for dinner, I’ve always had a knack for knowing my way in the kitchen. Cooking has been something I’ve loved to do for a long time, to the point where I considered going to culinary school after undergrad. I owe a lot of what I know and what I love about cooking to one person: my mom.
French hens, ladies dancing, swans swimming and, of course, a porter in a beer tree. These are necessary components for a successful 12 days of Christmas. For this writer, the beer found under the tree is Baderbräu Christmas Bliss Baltic Porter with vanilla and orange peel. Because, in Chicago, Jack Frost does more than nip our noses, it darn near renders them red enough to qualify us to guide Santa’s sleigh. Hence, any porter good enough for those traversing the frigid waters of the Baltic Sea is good enough for us living on the ice-covered shores of Lake Michigan.
Welcome to the time of year when families gather to spend quality time in the same room staring at their phones. With all kidding aside, sometimes it is nice to take a step back to reflect on the good old holiday traditions of the past, with a good old Christmas Ale.
I know what you’re thinking: “Christmas is over. Why are you still talking about a Christmas beer?” Because Bell’s Christmas Ale is an incredibly light and sessionable beer to savor during the cold months, and a perfect beer to drink beyond the merry holiday. While a lot of other winter warmers and dark beers made for this season are heavy in their ABV and body, this Christmas Ale is nothing what you’d expect.
ABV: 9.2% | IBU: 11
Let me preface this showcase: Upslope’s standard Christmas Ale is a really solid holiday dubbel. The Abbey Ale Yeast adds pleasant notes of dried fruit to the beer’s expected holiday spice to create a unique flavor. By any measure, it’s a good holiday beer.
That said, the Upslope Wild Christmas Ale takes it to a new and unexpected level.
ABV — 9.5%
IBU — approximately 20
It’s that time of year. Yes, Christmas is coming up, quickly, and this year the amount of early Christmas seems to have reached an even higher level! Hints of the season have already begun popping up all over the place: in department stores, specialty shops, on your friends’ Facebook feeds. Truth be told, you don’t have to go to Bronner’s in Michigan to get your taste of the holidays early anymore. Additionally, Christmas ale releases have already happened, much to many people’s delight. Even though one the biggest cult beer followings in Cleveland is the Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company—which is awesome this year, by the way, better than the last couple of years—Platform Beer Company has released a very nice, very different style of ale for your holiday imbibing needs: Esther Belgian Christmas Ale.
When Mrs. Claus hangs her flour-splotched apron after a night of baking scrumptious goodies, a bottle of Winter Cheers is her perfect pat-on-the-back. A little known fact, her jolly old man makes Downingtown, Pennsylvania his last stop on Christmas morning to bring her a snow-cold stash fresh from the Victory Brewing Company every year to enjoy together. Always having admired this hard-working First Lady of the North, I decided to follow suit.
Like many others on this site, I love ginger. Love it, love it, love it. Obviously then, gingerbread cookies are my favorite of all the Christmas-cookie options. Adding insult to injury, or the opposite in my case, there are now quite a few beers out there I can coin as liquid gingerbread. Or something very deliciously close to that. We already have a beer for this year’s 12 Beers of Christmas that is perfect for gingerbread lovers, a stout that is fuller than the typical one you would place in the “Christmas Ale” section at the store. Therefore, let’s have another example of ginger doing the right things: Revolution Brewing Fistmas Ale. Yes, our waltz with gingerbread can be sated once more!
IBU: 30 | ABV: 7.5%
There’s nothing like the first Christmas Ale of the season! Great Lakes Brewing Company started pouring before Halloween. I’ll admit I was a bit spoiled this year, as they were also serving it in a number of places during Christmas in July. With flavors of cinnamon, ginger and honey, it legitimately tastes like Christmas in a bottle.
‘Tis the season to sample the myriad Christmas concoctions that are offered throughout the cold months every year. At this time of year, I’m always on the lookout for something I’ve never tried before. Goose Island, always innovating and experimenting, provided that opportunity with this year’s version of their “Sixth Day” Christmas Ale.
Egg nog and chocolate, the essentials of Christmas. The egg nog all rich and boozy, smelling of nutmeg and bourbon, often hangs up in my mustache waiting for retrieval from my bottom lip. And as I sip the egg nog various dishes filled with assorted chocolates garnish the rooms, tempting me to sin again with each pass. Like Romeo, give me my sin again. Conversation stays non-confrontational and smiles stay affixed to faces, as we enjoy each other’s company or at least wish to not upset the jovial vibe that has been created by loved ones and the proper proportions of alcohol. Hey, I thought this was a beer blog not “The Night Before Christmas”…right you are. I digress from my Rockwellian fantasy, now on to the important stuff – beer. Where does beer fit in to this holiday utopia?
Anchor Brewing’s “Christmas Ale,” also known as “Our Special Ale,” is in its thirty-eighth year. I only wish I had heard of this brewery out of San Francisco before this summer; the recipe is different every year, and it would have been nice to have something to compare it to. The tree used on the label is also different each time around. This year it’s Araucaria heterophylla, or a Norfolk Island pine.
Once upon a time, a time one day ago in fact, a single man braved the single worst element, wind, and walked the entire one block down to his favorite watering hole. Once he found a single seat at the bar, he knew it was time to make the #1 most important decision of his night: What will my first beer be? After scanning the droughts for one minute, his eyes finally came upon a single tap placed by its lonesome at the end of the bar, the tap for Breckenridge Christmas Ale. This was to be his first beer of the night. There was one thing amiss about the drought tap, however, atop it sat a single piece of paper. Taped to the back of the tap with one measly piece of Scotch tape, the single piece of paper simply read: “Christmas Ale : $1.”