ShareThis Page
What’s brewing? 5 beers for the holiday cheers |
Food & Drink

What’s brewing? 5 beers for the holiday cheers

Mark Brewer
| Tuesday, December 18, 2018 11:03 a.m
Troegs Independent Brewing’s Mad Elf
Mark Brewer
Seasonal brews are abundant and tasty.
Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.’s 12 Dogs of Christmas

Baby, it’s cold outside, so let’s drink some of these craft beers that are released specifically for the holidays! Sometimes referred to as “winter warmers,” these unique holiday brews are something to look forward to each year.

The flavors of pumpkin pie spices in craft beer around Halloween kick off a celebration of aromas and flavors that truly make these end of the year holiday brews special. Just as we enjoy the feeling of a warm fire, the visuals of fluffy snowflakes, twinkling lights and the sounds of carolers around the holiday season, brewers use the wonderful aromas and flavors we associate with the holidays to bring us their culinary delights.

These brews made with pine, gingerbread, clove, orange peel, cookies, cinnamon and raisins are truly some of my favorite things.

Rich, full-bodied and malty flavored beers that warm our insides pair well in the winter months. Whether it’s a Belgian beer brewed with orange peel, a porter with real vanilla bean or a stout aged in bourbon barrels, they make great gifts. Stouts or any craft beers that are higher in alcohol can be aged, too.

They make good conversation pieces the following year when they’re opened. In addition, many brewers include seasonal and festive words like “elf,” “St. Nikolaus,” “snowdrift” and “Christmas” in the name of their beers to help drive home the holiday specialness. Many times these craft beers are accompanied by a great visual design, too. I enjoy seeing James Stitt’s new Christmas tree artwork that changes each year on Anchor Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale label. It’s one of many things that make craft beer around the holidays so special.

Here are a few holiday ales you’ll only find this time each year. Cheers!

Leinenkugel’s (Wisconsin)

Snowdrift (6% ABV). This is a porter-style beer that pours dark brown with aromas of vanilla and cocoa. Flavors include coffee and caramel, which are brought out by roasted malts. Aged on real vanilla, it’s smooth and creamy with a medium body and mildly carbonated. Slight lingering vanilla finish. Perfect for warming up winter!

Tröegs Independent Brewing (Pennsylvania)

The Mad Elf (11% ABV). This dark Belgian strong ale pours amber brown with a red hue. It smells sweet, spicy and a bit like sour cherries. Flavors of cherries, honey, cocoa, cinnamon, clove and allspice really come out after the beer warms up a bit. Boozy and well hidden, so prepare yourself because this one could get you into some trouble. Bad elf!

Full Pint Brewing Co. (Pennsylvania)

Festivus (6% ABV). A mildly spiced brown ale for the holidays. Light to moderate aromas of nutmeg and cinnamon. Taste is malty throughout with a hint of nutmeg and hops.

Pennsylvania Brewing Co.

St. Nikolaus Bock (6% ABV). A European-style rich, dark, malty lager with notes of chocolate. Medium body and smooth tasting with a toasted malt finish. This won a silver medal in 2011 from the Great American Beer Festival. The regular Bock is available from November until January, while the Brewers’ Reserve is available in November and December only.

Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. (Ohio)

12 Dogs of Christmas (8.3% ABV). Aromas of caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Flavors of raisins, malt and orange peel. As the beer warms, additional flavor of honey. Heavy body and sweet. A lingering malty, gingerbread finish.

Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.