Top 10 Beers for Christmas

Put down the eggnog. I know you”re only drinking it because of some ridiculous tradition that started before you were even a thought. Okay, now that you”ve come to your senses, perhaps this is the year you drink and offer beer to your guests instead (not the kind that looks like piss). Even though I”m still having a hard time letting go of the fall seasonal beers, the winter has plenty to offer. I tried to pick a variety of winter seasonals ranging from dark stouts to spicy ales and lagers. There”s something for everyone! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

*DISCLAIMER: This list is in no order. Try all ten, then decide what your favorite is!*

10. Sam Adams Winter Lager

(PHOTO: Sam Adams)

The Sam Adams Winter Lager is a tried-and-true brew that will not leave you disappointed. Sam Adams does lager well. They added a mix of winter spices and made the brew a bit darker (which makes it a tad bit sweeter in this case). The spices and the slight caramel flavor makes it an enjoyable fire to chug sip next to the yule log.

9. Troegs Mad Elf

(PHOTO: Troegs Brewing Company)

Just the name is enticing. Troegs Brewing Company has established themselves as one of the best craft breweries in the country. The Mad Elf and their Nugget Nectar have been my favorites for a while. Mad Elf packs a punch (11% ABV) and offers all the flavors I think of about Christmas: sweet, fruity, spicy. All packed into one swig that tastes great and gets you buzzed quick while dealing with that crazy family of yours.

8. Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale

We all know how I feel about this brew. Get a couple of six packs of this and put a couple bottles in the basement to compare to the next couple years” versions. The rest—drink with your friends and impress them with your knowledge of the brew!

7. Goose Island Mild Winter


(PHOTO: Goose Island)

This is the ale version of the Sam Adams Winter Lager.  I just recently tried this ale and it is worth picking up a case of for the winter months. It”s not so heavy that you can only drink a couple in one sitting. Yet it offers the satisfying warming feeling you are looking for on a cold winter”s day. I think I may bring this up to the slopes with me this ski season and have a couple after a day of skiing.

6. Magic Hat Howl

(PHOTO: Magic Hat)

Magic hat is another staple of craft beers, and this brew lives up to it”s namesake. At a low ABV of 4.6%, some may consider this brew a session beer (which means we can drink lots and lots of it before we can”t taste it anymore). It is a black lager that has the spicy taste and warm flavor associated with winter seasonals, but they seem stronger than other brews (which is good). Has a bitter and smokey flavor underneath it all and finishes dry, almost like a wine.  A good one to put in the mix for your fellow beer-lovers.

5. Keegan Ales Mother”s Milk Stout

(PHOTO: Keegan Ales)

My friend brought this back home for me from upstate New York and I fell in love. The name alone prepares you for a creamy delish stout. If you”ve never had a stout before, I”d say this is the one to start with. It is a creamy, sweet stout that is perfect for drinking after dinner or with dessert. In fact, I actually think you could drink a few of these as dessert.

4. Southern Tier 2X-Mas

(PHOTO: Southern Tier)

For those of you that aren”t the biggest fans of these spicy brews, this is more of a “mild” version that lies more on the sweet side. Which makes sense, since the beer was brewed with figs, best online casino orange peels, and spices. What about those three ingredients doesn”t say Christmas. It has a sweet start, with tastes of fruit, molasses and raisins, then finishes with some warming spices.  This is an ale, so it isn”t too heavy, but still packs a punch at 8% ABV.

3. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

(PHOTO: Sierra Nevada)

I”m hoping someone out there can find this. I”ve had trouble lately, and I”m worried they retired the brew. But if you see it at your local distributor, you have plenty to look forward to. This beer harnesses the great hops offered by the west coast, giving you various hoppy flavors that stand out from the rest of the brews mentioned. Underlying the hops are complementing sweet malty flavors coupled with the citrusness (is that a word?) of the hops. For all the hops in this brew, it is a very smooth drink and even a bit creamy from the maltiness. HOPHEADS WELCOME.

2. 21st Amendment Fireside Chat

(PHOTO: 21st Amendment)

First off, the name of the brewery is f”ing awesome. Second, their cans are so cool that you could start a collection. But more than that— it tastes great. I think this is the spiciest brew on the list. But spicy in a different way—it actually leaves you thinking “gingerbread.” Underneath that, you can taste some fruity flavors including apple, raisin and even banana. It”s a sweeter brew but also gives you the warming feeling you”re looking for while filling up on appetizers before dinner.

1. Guinness and Woodchuck “Black Velvet”

Okay, so I made one exception to my list this year. I know that Guinness is not technically a craft brew, and woodchucks isn”t technically beer. But drinking this is better than drinking eggnog or Bud Light. A “Black Velvet” consists of pouring about 3/4 a pint of Woodchucks and then pouring Guinness onto the rest of it. What you are left with is (1) a cool science experiment and (2) a drink that is pretty well balanced with sweetness and bitterness. They complement each other in a way that almost reminds you of having apple pie. Another suggestion for a dessert brew.

*One last thing: some people still just want a light beer. Do everyone a favor and pick up a case of Sam Adams Light or Yuengling Light instead of Coors Light or Bud Light. Your company will thank you! Merry Christmas!

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  • Barbara December 21, 2012  

    Definitely need to include Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale from Cleveland. Truly delicious. Made with “spices and honey” but there’s nothing too sweet or cloying about it. Just right.

  • Keith December 25, 2012  

    You don’t try many craft beers, do you?

  • Joe December 26, 2012  

    I agree with Barb… You’re missing out if you don’t include GLBC’s Christmas Ale.

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