Seasonal beers I have to admit don’t really rock my boat, in fact I’d go as far as saying they get right on my tits..
I’m not talking about beers suited to actual “seasons”, I quite look forward to the gradual change in emphasis from light and hoppy through to dark and heavy as the cold nights draw in and the heating is cranked up. I’m actually pointing a pudgy finger right at those bandwagon jumpers, you know the sort, anything remotely spooky at Halloween and such like.
It’s a similar story at Christmas, hand-pulls are tackily decked with pump-clips emblazoned with red-nosed beardy fat men, elves bottoms and buxom ladies with a sprig of holly tucked in their over exaggerated collectively heaving cleavages. With quite often lack lustre offerings the result in the glass, usually brown-black and stinking of nutmeg and cinnamon. Voilà, Christmas beer see, it says so on there, just above the comedy robin.
At Christmas though there is a rather pleasant side effect to this deluge or mediocrity in that it’s time to bring out some absolute classics, beers that although the stout-hearted drink year round, are just so much nicer in December and onwards to the spring time thaw.
So I’ve decided to put on my Hash-tag Activists virtual sandwich board again and organise another tasting session focussing (for me personally) on a few of my favourites. I’m hoping though that after reading what other people are up to, I can get a few more little gems to stick on my Christmas list. I’d be particularly interested in UK brewery’s offerings that you think buck that trend and are absolutely unmissable?
I’ve listed a few beers I’d recommend trying below, most I admit will need a visit to a decent beer shop to find, be that local or online, but none are overly rare either and should be readily available. As normal though I’d urge anyone to add further suggestions in comments too. If you are still struggling though, supermarkets will all have something and as a last resort wrap a bit of tinsel around a bottle of whatever you have and join in the fun.
- Gouden Carolus – Christmas
- Anchor – Christmas Ale
- De Dolle – Stille Nacht
- Mikkeller – Santas Little Helper
- St Bernardus – Christmas
- Port Brewing Co – Santas Little Helper (copyright?)
- Gordon Xmas
- Mikkeller – Hoppy Lovin Christmas
- Evil Twin – Before, During and After Christmas (Impy IPA)
- The Bruery – Four Calling Birds
- La Rulles – Cuvee Meilleus Voeux (made with Orval yeast)
- Kloster Andechs – Doppelbock Dunkel
- Williams Brewery – Nollaig
- Art Brew – Christmas Tree Beer
- Delirium Christmas
- Bristol Beer Factory – Twelve Stouts of Christmas
To stress, as always these are ideas only, no pressure at all to gather them all or indeed any, it’s meant to be a fun way to discover new beers and maybe styles you’ve not tried before. There are a few different takes Christmas above and although dark and rich dominates, there is the odd hoppy number in there too, get what you can and get stuck in.
Looking for stockists, there are links to the online purveyors of fine beers I use below, but please make sure you are kind to your local beer stores too.
Open a Christmas themed beer at any point during Friday 14th December, no time limits apply as folks from all over the world join in when suits and as time zones apply. Use the #SeasonsTweetings hash-tag and tell us what you are up to. Organise tasting sessions with your friends, family, partner or maybe just go to the pub, what ever applies.
So, three things to remember, beers, Friday 14th December and the #SeasonsTweetings hash-tag..
An Imperial IPA is NOTa Christmas beer in my book. I mean…. Best two so far this year, no make that best three, I had on draft in Brussels the other weekend – De La Senne Zinnebir X-Mas, De Ranke Pere Noel and St Feuillien Cuvee de Noel. I have some of the St Feuillien from 2007 and 2008 in my cellar and that should be pretty impressive by now, Smitsje Kerst also ages spectacularly by the way. Won’t be able to join your event, unfortunately, as I do not tweet.
I’d normally agree with you on the Impy IPA John, but this time I won’t as it sort of defeats the object. Some of the dross served up on the premise of being a Christmas beer isn’t and definitely wouldn’t stand up in the company you mention either. Whereas the Evil Twin could even though it really shouldn’t…if you understand me?
You too, from your examples, as I tend to look in the Belgian direction for top notch Christmas beers, but maybe not everyone agrees with us, so it’s a chance to explore. I’m hoping something from the UK stands out too.
Thanks for mentioning Père Noel by the way, I’ve got a bottle of that I
completely forgot about, BONUS!
Don’t think you can’t join if you don’t tweet btw, you can always do Facebook updates, txt or comment on here?
You can count me in… but you knew that already. I’ve got 4 definites at the moment but I’ll see what I can find between now and then… and if I’m not too pished at the end of the session I might even crack open a Paradox Xmas.
Whoopee! I really want to try Paradox Xmas, has it been “Chrimbo’d” up in some way though or is it just a new barrel aged version that just so happens to be a Christmas? (Honest question)
Either way I’m sure it will be ace
I believe it is the same Paradox as normal but instead of being aged in whisky casks it’s been aged in rum ones instead… I don’t think there is anything else that is different from the other Paradoxes
Cool, I bet it’s tasty though so I’ll let em off 😉
I don’t mind micro breweries doing what they have to to be commercial and to stay afloat and it would be too enticing for them to ignore the potential of Christmas. So as a small business owner myself, I get that. But I think most of the Seasonal brews over here (USA) are only memorable due to the clever labeling. The taste is bland and forgettable. “Oh, look it tastes of pumpkin….and thats a good thing is it? not necessarily”.
But the thing that bugs me is the behemoth breweries who through deceptive re branding pretend to be micro breweries….but perhaps thats for another subject. Cheers Phil!
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Keith, nobody minds them taking advantage of Christmas, Halloween etc etc, but put some effort in to make it special, not rebrand existing beers etc.
Interesting to get the views of an ex pat Brit with a long established life in the USA, I think sometimes the perception here is that “everything” is great in the American craft beer revolution.
For the record, not tried a good pumpkin beer either. Cheers
Harvey’s make a proper Christmas beer, a world apart from yr Rosey N-yawn-y…
Think it’s available bottled too…
Nice one dude, I picked up my Anchor Xmas 2012 the other day but had earmarked it for Xmas day night….We’ll see! Great idea though, and I’ll be joining in!
I’ll join in if I can, assuming I can get hold of anything interesting!
Count me in my good man. Xmas beer haul for this year is:
– St Bernadus Xmas
– N’ice Chouffe
– Petrus Winter #9 (new one for me – seems to get mixed reviews)
– Stille Nacht
Also got some Mikkeller Fra via Til but don’t think the Mrs will let me near without losing limbs! 🙂
I really enjoy sipping something big and complex while beached on the sofa post Xmas lunch blow out (which is usually accompanied by red wine). Something like a Rochefort 10 will last me a couple of hours. Perfect.
This should be cool… means I have to save my bottle of Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas!
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