With the large amount of holiday beers out there, from winter warmers to Christmas ales to hearty porters, it’s hard to know just which one to choose. And selecting the beer is only half the battle. The other half is figuring out what to pair it with. Here are some great holiday beers in different styles from breweries all over the country, so you can find something tasty no matter where you are. Whether you’re bringing these to a party to share, leaving some out for Santa, or looking for something to drink in front of the fire, there’s a beer for every holiday occasion.
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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: This is one of few hop-based holiday beers. This reddish beer has hints of evergreens, spices, and orange flavors, making it ideal for winter. Try pairing it with some sharp cheeses or poultry dishes, especially duck.
Southern Tier 2Xmas: This beer is a quintessential holiday beer. It’s brewed with Christmas flavors like figs, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in the style of a traditional Swedish glogg. The end result is sweet, spicy, and boozy. Pair with sausage and rich cheeses.
Goose Island Sixth Day: The recipe changes yearly for this beer, so it’s always a little bit of a surprise. But it’s always good! This years release is deep caramel-colored, with hints of malt and fruitcake. It has a warm, mulling spice-tasting finish. Perfect for warming up after being out in the cold. Pairs well with ham, turkey, or lamb.
Full Sail Wassail: The Pacific northwest has some really solid craft beers, and Full Sail Wassail is one of the best. While most winter beers are either very hoppy or very malty, this winter warmer has the perfect blend of hops and malts, making it something everyone can enjoy. It’s not sweet, it’s not overly spiced, it’s just a straight up good beer. Pair with earthy cheeses like camembert or curried dishes.
Berkshire Brewing Cabin Fever: Cabin fever isn’t fun, unless it comes in a pint glass. Berkshire Brewing Company’s Cabin Fever is a balanced ale, with a toasty caramel malt base. To give it a warming kick, Berkshire brewed it so that it finishes with a dash of holiday spices. Pairs well with poultry and game.
Sam Adams White Christmas: This beer is interesting because it’s one of the few Christmas wheat beers on the market. The cloudy beer is brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel. It starts out citrus-y, but finishes up sweet and spicy. Pair with turkey or as the brewery suggests, potato leek soup.
Tröegs Mad Elf: This Belgian strong dark ale would make any elf happy. With its warm blend of cherries, honey, and chocolaty malts, you hardly notice that it’s 11 percent ABV. Not to mention, the bright red color is totally festive. Try pairing it with sharp cheeses or if you feel brave, make a float with this beer and some orange sorbet.
Cape Cod Beer Mint Chocolate Porter (aka MinChoPo): This is the second annual batch of this porter, which is brewed in an extremely small and limited batch of 600 bottles. Made with cocoa nibs from Taza Chocolate in Somerville, this beer is like mint chocolate ice cream. Pair with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, just drink it alone. It’s a dessert in and of itself.
Anchor Christmas: Each year Anchor releases a new Christmas beer, with a new drawing of a tree on the label. This year, the San Francisco brewery paid homage to the California White Fir on the label and this batch’s taste has been described as a “spicy gingerbread cookie.” Starting out with hints of toffee, gingerbread, and caramel, the beer finishes slightly bitter with hints of juniper and pine. Pair with dessert.