Sip your way through the holiday season with these eclectic winter beers.
Avery Old Jubilation Ale: A complex bill of five malts coats the tongue with sweet toffee and dark chocolate, while a rich nuttiness adds even more reason to rejoice.
East Coast Winter Rental: Spending the holidays beachside? Trade out your summery pale lagers with this wintry schwarzbier, which deliciously balances dark roasted malts with threads of caramel and toast.
Red Hook Winterhook #27: The 27th incarnation of this ever-changing winter ale (“The recipe changes slightly every winter because nobody likes getting the exact same holiday present year after year,” says the brewery) drinks like a malty (but not black) pale ale: a toffee-chocolate-nut malt force rounds off a sure-footed hop statement for super-sessionable swallow.
New Belgium Snow Day: A winter beer for the hopheads, this dark wheat beer tickles the tongue with roasted malts and juicy, citrusy hops.
Breckenridge Christmas Ale: This beer’s sugary caramel and chocolate notes sweeten its delicate toasted malt base—and its sneaky 7% ABV is like a Christmas present for your palate.
Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer: Rich chocolate and bitter coffee notes abound in this savory porter—a perfect pick-me-up tipple to set next to Santa’s cookies on Christmas Eve.
Goose Island Mild Winter & Christmas Ale: The Chicago brewery hits the Christmas beer scene with a one-two punch. Everyone hopes for a mild winter, but at the very least, we’ll settle for the sweet-and-spicy rye malt riff on a classic English mild ale. Need something stronger? This 6.2%-ABV Christmas ale, an American brown, is meant to herald the Yuletide, but it’s really a well-harnessed celebration of malt: The nose is all caramel, toffee and toast touched by mild fruity esters, and the flavor’s more of the same. A medium body and moderate hop earthiness make it one of the better browns on shelves now.
Wachusett Winter Ale: This strong Scotch ale’s low on booze (at 6.1% ABV, it’s not the heaviest of the wee heavies), but big on intriguing flavors: Grain spice, mild smoke and woody dryness ride a smooth, sweet flavor wave.
Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale: Drying ginger cuts through this 5.9%-ABV Christmas classic spiced with cinnamon and orange peel. Let the beer warm to lure out richer malt notes of caramel, chocolate and dark fruit.
The Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi Ale: Peppery alcohol expresses this beer’s warming 10% ABV, but the real gift (for funk hounds, that is) is the marriage of pungent hops and earthy Brettanomyces—“We left the camel on the label but added out own barnyard to the bottle,” notes the brewery.
Deschutes Jubelale: This stalwart winter warmer is as richly delicious as they come: A sweet raisin nose is mirrored in the flavor, while rich toast, a deep nuttiness and warming swallow make it the perfect beer to curl up with next to the fireplace.
Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper: This oil-thick brew tempts the palate with molasses and roasted malt scents, and then delivers on its promise with a flood of dark chocolate, brown sugar, roasted grains and a spicy, hot finish that should help you through the holiday season.
Sweetwater Festive Ale: Forgo that dry brick of fruitcake with Festive Ale: Its smooth fig and raisin notes, underlying caramel sweetness and sharp spicy finish create a must-have holiday dessert beer.