Tis the season where everything is a reason for celebrating.
This year we decided to team up with The Beer Wrangler and suggest some interesting beers and ales for you to try over the holidays. Most of these beers are based on traditional recipes that have been around for ages and basically fall into two categories: winter warmers or spiced Christmas beers. Winter warmers are rich, malty and stronger than your average beer (5.5%-7%), while spiced Christmas beers can be of any style but also have sweet spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice added. Like the winter warmers, spiced Christmas beers are stronger than average in alcohol content (5.5 – 10%).
These beers would make great gifts for those hard to buy men- and women! Women are now the fastest growing demographic of beer drinkers (who knew?). So this year why not try a few and have your very own Christmas beeracle!
Please note that all pricing is for BC which has one of the most expensive alcohol prices in the Western world, almost everywhere else will be cheaper (where available).
Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome 2010
Samuel Smith’s is a renowned historic English brewery that has been crafting beer since 1758 and every year they brew up a limited batch of their Winter Welcome Ale. This beer is a winter warmer style which means it is seasonally brewed, usually rich amber in colour, and has a higher alcohol content than other ales. This smooth rich malty beer has tastes of caramel, dried fruit and orange peel (have you ever had Sorren malt raisin loaf? Its kind’ve like that in a beer!) Despite it’s strength, its a very easy drinking ale. $6.65/550ml
Pyramid Breweries Snowcap Winter Warmer
The Snow Cap winter warmer from Pyramid Breweries in Seattle, WA is dark red amber in colour (much darker than the Samuel Smith’s above) and slightly hoppier than most. I found that the hops gave it a slightly lighter taste which compliments the notes of brown sugar and caramel. Winter warmers are less carbonated because they’re designed to be rich and warming rather than refreshing and this makes them taste smooth and slightly creamy. Snow Cap is a strong (7%) filling beer and as it comes in a 650ml bottle it’s perfect for sharing at any festive get-together. $7.50/650ml
Dead Frog Brewery Christmas Beeracle
Dead Frog is a newer, up & coming Canadian brewery who this year, for the first time have bottled a limited edition, 650ml Christmas beer. Christmas Beeracle is an amber ale with hints of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. This is a much lighter beer than the two winter warmers above which makes it a better party beer. The ginger notes are most obvious on the finish and definitely leave you with a warm, yummy feeling. Dead Frog definitely wins the prize for the best winter beer name and the bottle label incorporates a handy gift tag- in case you’re stuck for Secret Santa ideas. $6.85/650ml
Eel River Brewing Company Climax Noel
Climax Noel is the winter warmer offering from the Eel River Brewing Company– America’s first certified organic brewery. This beer is a dry hopped imperial red ale and the “red” is obvious in the red amber colour. It’s full bodied flavour combines the fresh citrus-y notes of the hops and the rich, sweet, molasses taste from the malt. Now this one is a doozy in terms of alcohol, its 10%, but don’t let that put you off- it’s evenly balanced and PERFECT for sharing on a cold winter night! $8.65/650ml
Howe Sound Brewing Father Johns Winter Ale
Howe Sound Brewing‘s Father John’s Winter Ale is definitely my favourite winter beer. It tastes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, yellow sugar & molasses- basically it’s Christmas in a glass! I think its the most balanced of all of the beers: it’s rich without being too rich and the spices meld well with the beer as a whole- no single taste overpowers the others. It has an alcohol content of 7% so you have to be careful as it sneaks up on you- but I can guarantee some upcoming nights in my house sitting by the (fake) fire, drinking this fabulous beer and listening to Little Miss snoring on the monitor. This is a limited release so get them while you can – you won’t regret it. $8.00/1L
If we’ve piqued your beery interest be sure to check out The Beer Wrangler for more beer reviews and info, including a glassware guide, beer styles and book reviews.