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Drink Tue Nov 30 2010

'Tis The Season To Inbibe: Our Top 5 Christmas Ales

christmasales1.jpgNo doubt Andy Williams is right when he sings "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The caroling, the hearts a-glowing, the mistletoeing -- all great stuff. If we had one, minor complaint though, we might sub out that line about "scary ghost stories" (because it's stupid) and replace it with something about Christmas seasonals. Beer rhymes with year. It could work. Anyway, look, the point is -- if you're a beer lover, then this is without question, the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you like your hops bitter or your malts sweet, there's a Christmas beer out there for you. So for all the non-converts, put down that Coors Lite ("frost-brewed" doesn't actually mean anything, you know), put on your Santa hat and take a gander at this list.

5. Avery Old Jubilation
Style: English Strong Ale
Alcohol Content: 8%
Tastes Like: Roasted malts, mocha, toffee and nuts with a crisp, carbonated finish.

4. Great Divide Hibernation
Style: Old Ale
Alcohol Content: 8.7%
Tastes Like: Dark, overripe ripe fruit, oak, brown sugar and a hint of vanilla with a long, lingering, hoppy finish.

3. Sierra Nevada Celebration
Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
Alcohol Content: 6.8%
Tastes Like: Citrusy, zesty, and aggressively hoppy, with a wonderful spruce & pine-infused aroma. Few will argue that this golden beauty is one of the best Christmas ales brewed in America.

2. Anchor Brewing Company's Our Special Ale
Style: Winter Warmer
Alcohol Content: 5.5%
Tastes Like: A truly unique take on the Christmas ale, ABC's OSA has notes of cocoa, raisin, nutmeg and clove, with a smooth, creamy finish. Very light on hops, OSA is perhaps the most sessionable seasonal around.

1. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Alcohol Content: 10%
Tastes Like: A deliciously dark, complex, full-bodied beer that has it all: rich caramel, figs, prunes and spices. And at 10% alcohol by volume, you can save the roaring fire -- this one will warm you all by itself. In short, this ale is Christmas in a bottle.

Honorable mentions: Delirium Noel, Mikkeler Santa's Little Helper (look for the 2009 vintage), Gouden Carolus Noel, Scaldis Noel.

What did we forget? If anyone has a favorite that didn't make the list, let us know!

Happy quaffing!


jen / November 30, 2010 11:37 AM

Great Lakes Christmas Ale (this year's is better than '09, pretty much on par with '08 which was great); Breckenridge Christmas Ale if that's available here these days (someone ask Glunz, they're the local distro)

Jon / November 30, 2010 2:59 PM

Great Lakes Christmas is pretty over-rated. People from Michigan apesh*t for it. Loooove SN Celebration.

Jason / November 30, 2010 3:24 PM

Troeg's Mad Elf.

jen / November 30, 2010 7:17 PM

Jon, Revolution Brewing would disagree with you, they tap their own Fistmas Ale as well as GLBC, Sierra Nevada Celebration, Smuttynose RIS in apple brandy barrels and Delirium Tremens Noel..

Margeaux / December 4, 2010 4:15 AM

Love me some AS Our Special. Roasty toasty fun.

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