You know what I mean! There are certain foods and drinks that are only available during the Christmas season and really wouldn’t taste the same any other time of year. For me, Southern Comfort Eggnog, Candy Canes and Petits Fours (I love those things) are prime examples. But what about beer? Sure, there are a ton of Christmas Beers to choose from, but which ones have I found myself buying year-after-year?
Last year, some of my favorite Christmas Ales were from Belgium. Weighing in at around 10% ABV each, I thought the Delirium Noel and Gouden Carolus Noel were perfect for the season, and the Corsendonk Christmas Ale was no slouch either. I think any Belgian Dark Ale might do, but these two, with their Christmas wrapping seals the deal.
These wonderful Belgian Strong Dark Ales taste a little of dark rum, toffee, candy sugar, and sweet dark fruit like dates and plum. Needless to say, the big bottles don’t last long, especially when shared with friends. I liked these three so much, I picked them up again for Christmas 2010. A Christmas beer tradition in the making? I think so!
Way back in 2008, as I was just discovering Christmas beers and ‘reviewing’ them for The Brew Club, one beer stood out as very different and surprisingly good. That beer was Troegs Mad Elf. Its a beer that comes with a bit of sticker shock ($14+ for a sixer in these parts) and at 11% ABV, its no joke. Still, I found the alcohol flavors to be in control, and the cherry and honey flavors come through for a win. I also picked this beer up again to enjoy this year, adding to the tradition. Some people think this beer tastes a bit like fruitcake, and having it his year I could say, yeah, there’s a bit of that here. Not enough to ruin Mad Elf for me though. I HATE fruitcake, but I dug this beer! (Thanks for messing with me Jim!)
This year, in addition to revisiting the aforementioned brews, I picked up a few new ones to try. I already found a couple that I will definitely buy year after year! Two in particular can be found in the Sam Adams Winter variety pack which makes it a lot easier for me. I thought the Sam Adams Holiday Porter, and the Old Fezziwig Ale were great Christmas beers, and I’d buy both of them without hesitation if they were available in six packs, but unfortunately they only come in the winter variety pack.
Also new for me this year is the Sam Smith Winter Welcome 2010-2011, the Smuttynose Winter Ale, and the 2010 versions of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (4 stars this year) and Anchor’s 2010 Christmas Ale. After resampling the Celebration Ale, I can see that beer making my yearly list as well. Hoppy and different, but like most offering from Sierra Nevada, very, very good!
So, if I had to limit it to 5 beers that I’d buy every Christmas season, I think it would go like this…
- Delirium Noel. Just damn tasty in a Belgian sort of way.
- Troegs Mad Elf. A different twist with honey and cherry. Expensive, strong, but definitely worth it.
- Sam Adams Old Fezziwig Ale. More traditional in the English sense. Warming, spicy, and more sessionable than the others.
- Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Different, very hoppy but balanced. Dare I say a good Summer beer in disguise?
- Ayinger Weizen-Bock. OK, I didn’t mention it here, but its a great, great wheat ale from a great German brewery. CHECK IT OUT or you’ll end up with coal in your stocking!
How about you? Do you have any beers that you MUST have for Christmas? What are your favorites? Let us know!