Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
There is a subset of beer fans out there who really, really like Christmas Ales. Cinnamon and nutmeg abound in holiday-themed beers packaged with festive labels that often go out of their way to twist the season. The problem is that far too many Christmas Ales are too heavy with the yuletide spicy cheer. So which holiday beer do you pick for your celebration? Here are some of my favorites:
Schlafly Christmas Ale: The alternative to the more popular spicy Christmas Ales out there. Much the same way as Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale avoids the trap of going too spicy (which makes it the best out there in my opinion), their Christmas Ale gives you all the holiday spice you need as a secondary player to the excellent beer that those spices happen to appear in. This one never lasts very long, so if you see it jump on it quick.
Sierra Nevada Celebration: A favorite of mine, Celebration bucks the trend by simply being a delightful Fresh Hop Ale rather than a spicy mess. Easy going with punchy, earthy hop aromas and flavors, Celebration is good, popular, and readily available.
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale: This Belgian treat eschews the medicinal, herby flavors of other Biere de Noel by simply being a delicious, slightly malty Belgian Ale with a strong, clean banana yeasty note from its bottle conditioning.
Troeg’s Mad Elf: A big Barleywine brewed with honey and cherries, Mad Elf is 11% of insanity. Not only delicious, but improves with age.
Devil’s Backbone Long Winter’s Nap: This Virginia brewery’s seasonal release is a rich Blonde Tripelbock whose smoothness belies its 10% ABV. With enough malt, but not so much that it’s too cloying or rich. A real treat.
Port City Tidings: Starting to run low already, so jump on it quick. This holiday offering from Alexandria’s Port City Brewery is a Belgian-style Blonde Ale that uses local Maryland wildflower honey and Virginia wheat. The spices in Tidings aren’t exactly what you’d expect either; there’s cardamom, coriander, grains of paradise, and fresh ginger. This year’s Tidings strikes an even better balance between the richness from the honey and its spices.
There is no shortage of Christmas offerings out there — which ones do you look forward to the most?
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