The holidays are all about spreading joy. Brewers do their part with delicious seasonal brews. The best of them mix chocolate, spice, fruit and generous ABVs to put enough cheer in a bottle to stave off the winter chill.
Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout
The bearded guy on the front of the bottle is enough to make Muskoka’s Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout a hit at any holiday gathering. But everything special about this American Double Stout is inside the bottle. Muskoka uses 70 percent dark chocolate and locally picked cranberries to create a subtle tang of fruit flavor that melts into dark chocolate goodness. A hint of smoke gives this beer depth of flavor without making it too sweet. And if chocolate and cranberries aren’t enough cheer, the 8 percent ABV will soon get you into the holiday spirit.
Winter Warmers are the most popular style of winter brews. Made along the lines of wassail, they feature big fruit flavor with a hint of spice. And although Wychwood is best known for its Hobgoblin ale, it does more than justice to the Winter Warmer tradition. This English strong ale is full of fall fruit flavor blended with a hint of cinnamon and rounded off with a nice hoppy bite. Even the pour gets in the Christmas spirit with big, red color a thick white head and robust lacing.
Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale
The best way to describe Samuel Smith’s Winter Warmer is “holiday cheer in a bottle”. Unlike the fruitier Bah Humbug, the stars of the Winter Welcome Ale are its delicious English hops. They give the brew a golden color and bright, spicy sweet flavor that tastes like coming in from the cold. The hint of winter fruit flavor and bite of hops rounds it out to make it a favorite winter seasonal.
Hirschbrau’s Holiday Gift 3-Pack
So these aren’t technically seasonal beers, but brewers often release sampler packs during the holiday season. And if you find this among your local’s assortment, don’t pass it up. These three Bavarian beers represent what Hirschbrau does best. At 350 years old, Hirschbrau doesn’t monkey around with new flavor profiles or interesting twists. They focus on the classic flavors that have made beer humanity’s favorite drink for the past millennium.
As the flagship brew of cheap beer, no other style has been abused as much as the pale lager. If you want to know what a good lager is supposed to taste like you can’t go anywhere better than this Bavarian Helles Lager. It pours pure gold and drinks with a perfect balance of mild malt and grassy, lemon hop flavor with none of the bite.
If you’ve never had a dopplebock, I highly recommend it. And they don’t get any better than this. This brew’s rich caramalized malt flavor, hint of autumn fruit and high alcohol content (7%ABV) make it go down like a scotch with none of the burn. Sip it just slightly colder than room temperature preferably with a good cigar.
This Munich Dunkel Lager (think along the style of Negro Modelo) is all about Munich malt. They give the brew its amber color and fruit-malt flavor. The full-bodied sweetness is well-balanced by grassy bitter hops. Overall it’s refreshing and light, the best evidence that mild flavor is more than enough when it’s done right.