I tried to get this one out for Christmas 2013 and failed. Then I missed 2014. Now I see that 2015 slipped by me too. This past Christmas I had a good excuse. The entire month of December where I live was exactly 70 degrees day and night. It rained every day. It felt more like spring monsoon season than the holidays.
No more excuses. Let’s pretend it’s still Christmas. In less than twelve months it will be. It will be holiday beer time. You can still cash in with January.
I classify the seasons in terms of ale. Spring ramps up to summer with cool, refreshing beers like Founder’s All Day IPA and Sweetwater 420. A trip to the beach or a round of yard work calls for Coronas – with or without the lime. Autumn brings in the darker, stronger stuff and those pumpkiny delights like Sam Adams Fat Jack.
Then the holidays come. Christmas specials carry over into winter. Festive ales with jolly names give way to stout, fireside ready brews – draughts to keep the chill at bay.
I recommend the following holiday beers in no particular order. Just get ye to a decent liquor store and investigate the possibilities. Those of the pilsner swilling school, please stop reading here (if you’ve made it this far). This article is about taste not low quality and high quantity. Here goes:
My title here was once the name of Sam Adams’s outstanding Gingerbread Stout. After the 2012 inauguration they renamed the stuff Merry Maker. Same beer. And what a beer! It’s a holiday seasonal but at 9% ABV this excellent stout will easily store until summer. The awesome taste – sweet, malty, and spiced – is best enjoyed at cellar temperature (many Sams need to be ice-cold for proper enjoyment). Try it next season. Stock up.
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Sam Adams also offers their Holiday Porter and Old Fezziwig Ale as part of their limited-time holiday variety pack. Both are incredible and make perfect companions for a good cigar.
The SA Winter Lager is an old favorite too.
Lest this become a Samuel Adams commercial, let me recommend a few others: R.J. Rocker’s First Snow Ale, Blue Point Brewing’s Winter Ale, Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve, New Belgium’s Snow Day (name subject to change year by year), Abita Christmas Ale, Blue Moon Winter and many, many others.
Some of these fantastic brews are light. Some are dark beauties. Some are stronger, higher gravity than others. Most are sweet with hints of yummy holiday spices. All are delicious. Halfway through one the mind second guesses the wisdom of their limited release nature. Why not all year? Everyday? There’s a reason for this. Imagine a 95 degree Florida day with a sweet malt instead of the lime bottle. It wouldn’t be the same. And perish the thought these masterpieces should ever become mundane. It’s all about moderation. It’s about the season.
The outside air is bitterly cold. Maybe snow lies upon the ground. The children are playing with abandon. The women folk chatter away. Another good steak or shepard’s pie or some other solid fare has been consumed. A roaring fire crackles in defiance of the deathly chill evening. An overworked gentleman counts his blessings. He peruses the humidor for the right smoke. He needs only the right ale or porter to perfect the night. Holiday cheer with a holiday beer.
Merry mischief to all and to all a good ale!