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Christmas is a time for friends and family to get together and share stories in front of a roaring fire while dressed in thick wool sweaters and drinking festive beers. All of the beers we have chosen this year are as appealing to the eye as they are to the palate. Though some brewers take this opportunity to capture the scents of the season using nutmeg, clove, orange peel and cranberries, others try to highlight the food, pairing it instead of imitating it. The first two in our selections do just that whereas the second batch is a bit more flavored.
North Peak Blitzen Festivus Ale–
Bramling Cross hops are used in this delightfully hoppy seasonal selection from North Peak. Though they are utilized to give off notes of raisin and clove as well as a general Christmas feel, even a trained palate may be left searching. There, I’ve aired my grievance. Overall, it’s a flavorful ale that will be enjoyed by the hop-headed son-in-law and the fizzy-beer-loving uncle.
Bell’s Christmas Ale–
Using 100% Michigan-grown barley, Bell’s creates its Christmas ale to compliment the foods of the season not overpower them. Michigan and Pacific Northwest hops are used to craft an herbal aroma and a touch of mouthwatering bitterness on the finish. No spices are used in the making of this Scottish-style ale, but you do get slight toasty notes from the malted barley.
Frankenmuth Christmas Town Ale–
In homage to the town’s nickname, Frankenmuth Christmas Town has toasted malts and American hops. The nose is bready, and there are notes of fruit cake and spice on the palate. It is incredibly drinkable and medium bodied–perfect after a long day of shopping.
Anchor Steam Christmas Ale–
Anchor Brewing Company has been producing the grandfather of Christmas beers since 1975, with a slightly different secret recipe and a different tree on the label each year. Even though the recipe changes, this always ends up being a favorite of mine. This year’s has a dark brownish/black color, with a creamy, dense, caramel-colored head. Roasted malts give this winter warmer nuances of clove, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
I hope you try each of these out and let me know which ones are your favorites! Tweet me at @NinosWineExpert