This article originally appeared on ThirstyMag on December 23rd, 2016.
There are only so many hours of drinking left in 2016, so here is a list of some favorite Christmas and Winter beers to keep the ball rolling. The winter season brings a lot of strong ales and imperial styles. Some are spicy and fruity, and most are very high malt and therefore higher alcohol.
They’re what I like to call “sippers,” and are designed to keep you warm throughout the winter, and get you through some potentially difficult holiday festivities, parties, and political ceremonies.
ANCHOR CHRISTMAS ALE, CA (6.5%)
Since 1975, Anchor Brewing has been brewing a top secret Christmas recipe for the season, and each year featuring a new tree on its label. This year, it is the “1,000 Mile Tree” or the lone pine found during westbound construction of the transcontinental railroad, discovered in 1869. This dark, rich, spiced ale pours a beautiful mahogany brown, with aromas of fruitcake, fresh cut wood, and tastes of roasted caramel and chocolate.
PORT BREWING SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, CA (10.5%)
This Russian Imperial Stout from Port Brewing may literally knock your socks off at 10.5% ABV. Pours a viscous black, with aromas and tastes of cocoa, chocolate, licorice, caramel.
SIERRA NEVADA CELEBRATION ALE, CA (6.8%)
A deliciously hoppy double brown, it is their seasonal American IPA, marking the hop harvest of “Celebration Season.” It’s dark in color, with a hoppy bite and hints of christmas fruits.
ANDERSON VALLEY WINTER SOLSTICE, CA (6.9%)
This winter warmer style from Booneville, CA has a rich amber hue and medium body, with a caramel and toffee taste.
TROEGS MAD ELF, PA (11%)
This Belgian Strong Dark Ale, is brewed with German malts & hops, and a spicy Belgian yeast, and this beautiful ruby red brew collects all the flavors of Christmas desserts with a little kick in the tiny elf pants. Brewed with raw Pennsylvania honey, tart cherries, and cocoa, the mulling spices emerge from the nose to round it all out.
BRECKENRIDGE CHRISTMAS ALE, CO (7.1%)
A super chocolatey and caramelly winter warmer, their holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire.
OSJEČKO PIVO HOLIDAY EDITION (4.5%)
The best-known beer from Croatia, Osječko Pivo has been brewed since 1697. For the holiday season, the brewery releases a holiday-themed edition, complete with adorable bottles outfitted to look like Santa.
FOUNDERS BREAKFAST STOUT, MI (8.3%)
This Imperial Stout is easy to enjoy day after day. Brewed with flaked oats, bittersweet chocolate and Sumatra and Kona coffee. It is something you can literally have as a brunch course. If you are searching for beers in the same vein (i.e. as part of your meal), try Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, or their Beer Geek Rauch.
DELIRIUM NOEL BELGIUM (10%)
From Brouwerij Huyghe in Belgium, this Belgian Dark Strong Ale is a beautiful, bottled-conditioned beer. It pours a dark amber color, and is sweet with dark fruits, brown sugar, and the smell of banana. Finely carbonated and finishes dry.
DEUS BRUT DES FLANDRES (11.5%)
If on New Year’s Eve you want to mix it up from the usual champagne toast, this is as close as you can get. From Brouwerij Bosteels in Belgium, this Belgian Biere Brut clocks in at 11.5% ABV, and is complex, oh so bubbly, with a dry finish. Grab your flutes. If you can’t find a bottle of Deus, the classic Saison DuPont will do just fine.