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Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer Reviews

Come winter, elves aren’t the only ones making gifts; brewers, too, roll up their sleeves to craft beers specifically for the holidays. Often, these beers are spiced, more alcoholic and generally greater in flavor detail than a brewer’s typical offerings, and usually made using Belgian or American traditions. These beers can vary in style and should ultimately be more robust versions of their bases; some feature wintery elements like spruce or dried fruits, some feature added fermentables like molasses, and others are simply amped-up editions of classic styles. Aromas usually evoke the holidays—think gingerbread and mulled wine—and common flavors include nuts and figs, though some brewers eschew tradition by offering specialty wheat beers. Look for high ABVs and big bottles; these brews are meant for sharing.

Pair: These brews work well with entire holiday spreads, and their big bottles last for several passes around the table. Big, raisin-and-plum-tinged beers pair elegantly with a Christmas ham, scalloped potatoes and pecan pie; spiced, dark lagers make good matches for Hanukkah dishes like brisket and latkes.

Glassware: pint glass or snifter, depending on style