Winter and the holiday season see a lot of good, small production seasonal brews in the form of Christmas beers and winter warmers. Christmas beers are often malty and complex, although there are no rules for how they should be brewed.
Some are made with fruit or spice and some rely on artful malt or hops combinations for wonderful complexity. The winter warmers are similar though they are rarely made with any adjuncts. Both typically contain more than usual alcohol and are usually available from November to February.
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The Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack contains a variety of beers. This makes it a nice way to try some unusual beer for beer lovers who are just discovering craft beer. Though it can change from year to year the mix pack often contains Boston Lager, Old Fezziwig Ale, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, Black Lager, and Cranberry Lambic.
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Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale is a traditional winter warmer and in many ways has served as the modern benchmark for the style. It is big in flavor and alcohol. Though maltiness dominates it does have a good bit of balancing hops as well as hints of apples and caramel.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
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This is one of those examples of artful, adjunct free beers. Avery brews some pretty amazing beer using only the four traditional ingredients.
Avery Brewing Old Jubilation certainly fits in the winter warmer category. With heaps of malt and 8% alcohol, this complex and tasty beer will make a welcome addition to your holiday bar.
07 of 09
This is how the Belgians make a winter warmer. This Bush Noël (Scaldis Noël in the US) beer is rich with lots of malt. Though malt dominates, the complexity from the wilder yeasts Belgians tend to use plus the unusual practice of aging this beer with hops flowers in the vats for four to six weeks gives this brew unique flavor and character.
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If you're looking for a beer with all of the traditional yuletide flavors, this Schlafly Christmas Ale is it. Schlafly adds cloves and orange peel to this medium bodied ale. This beer says "Christmas" in a straight-forward way.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
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Young's beers are always solid beers and generally excellent examples of style. Young's Winter Warmer is a middle of the road warmer. This would be a good beer to have on hand if some of your guests might not be up to the challenge of some of the bigger beers that I've listed above.