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These Seasonal Craft Beers Will Leave You Fully In The Holiday Spirit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — the holidays. With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, we’re heading full force into the holiday season with all of its pine-scented trees, holly jolly jocularity, brightly lit menorahs, Festivus poles, gingerbread cookies, and eagerly-awaited seasonal beers.

The latter is where our focus lies today — the time is right to stock up on holiday brews. Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, you can probably agree that a well-made Christmas beer, wintry holiday ale, or spiced IPA are all something to get excited about when the calendar edges nearer to December.

That’s why we decided to list eight of our favorites below. Some are classic, spiced Christmas beers and others land a little on the hoppier side. There’s something for every palate and each pick is a lot better than a sock full of coal. Let’s dive in!

Revolution Fistmas

Revolution Fistmas
Revolution

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

With a name like Fistmas, you can probably tell that this beer is like a punch of good cheer to your gut. This 6.5 percent red ale gets its seasonal flavor from the addition of ginger and orange peel. The result is a sweet, spicy, warming beer well-suited for cold weather.

Tasting Notes:

Complex aromas of caramel, vanilla, floral hops, and slight spice meet you on the nose. The palate is centered around candied orange peel, shaved ginger, bready malts, butterscotch, and just a hint of biting spice. The finish is dry, warming, and a great combination of sweet and spicy.

Bottom Line:

This subtly spiced seasonal is a great beer for fans of hoppy beer that want to drink a Christmas brew, too. It features snappy hops that temper the other flavors nicely.

Clown Shoes Reindeer Games

Clown Shoes Reindeer Games
Clown Shoes

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $21 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Clown Shoes is a big name in the craft beer world. Recently, the brand launched a “12 Beers of Christmas” mix pack featuring a slew of great beers. This includes Reindeer Games. Named for the extracurricular activities Rudolph wasn’t allowed to partake in, this beer is “Bavarian Style” IPA is brewed with Saaz, Mandarina, and Mosaic hops.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the notes of bready malts, bright lemon zest, butterscotch, dank pine, and a slight, herbal backbone. The sip reveals caramelized sugar, orange peels, brown sugar, a pine forest, and a slightly sweet, subtly bitter finish that leaves you wanting more.

Bottom Line:

You probably thought that all Christmas beers were spiced. This one appeals to IPA fans by refusing to conform to the expected conventions for conjuring the season.

Deschutes Jubelale

Deschutes Jubelale
Deschutes

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Deschutes fans eagerly await this seasonal beer. This complex “festive” winter ale is brewed with Pale, Extra Special, Crystal, and Carapils malts as we as roasted barley and Bravo, Cascade, US Tettnang, East Kent Goldings, and Delta hops.

Tasting Notes:

Nosing this beer reveals hints of bready malts, caramel candy, roasted malts, and resinous pine needles. On the palate, you’ll find myriad flavors — including fir needles, dank hops, bitter chocolate, butterscotch, and freshly brewed coffee. It all ends with a nice finish of floral hops, caramel, and just a whisper of seasonal spice.

Bottom Line:

For a holiday beer, this is surprisingly complex and well-balanced. There’s a great ratio of hops to malts to create a nice, piney, malty seasonal sipper.

Anchor Christmas Ale

Anchor Christmas Ale
Anchor

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Anchor Christmas Ale is not only one of the oldest holiday beers in the US, but it’s also one of the most eagerly awaited. Brewed every year since 1975, it’s available from November until January. While the recipe is a closely guarded secret, this winter warmer is known for its chocolate, malty, warming flavor.

Tasting Notes:

This beer smells exactly like you hope it would. Notable aromas like caramel, bready malts, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, and other baking spices fill your nostrils. When you take a sip, you’re met with hints of dried cherries, cinnamon, cloves, caramel candy, roasted malts, and a gentle, nutty sweetness throughout.

Bottom Line:

The folks at Anchor have had decades to perfect this beer and they absolutely have. It’s malty, rich, loaded with seasonal spice, and surprisingly easy to drink.

Tröegs Mad Elf

Tröegs Mad Elf
Tröegs

ABV: 11%

Average Price: $16 for a six-pack

The Beer:

It feels like this list is filled with beers that have rabid fan bases. Tröegs Mad Elf is no exception. This highly awaited, bold, warming seasonal offering is 11 percent ABV and brewed with Chocolate, Munich, and Pilsner malts as well as Spicy Belgian yeast. It gets its wintry flavor from the addition of honey and Bing, Lambert, Van, Royal Ann, Montmorency cherries.

Tasting Notes:

This beer is truly unique. The nose begins with a symphony of dried cherries, clover honey, caramel malts, and just a hint of bitter, floral hops. The taste is a continuation of the nose with flavors like bright, tart cherry, sweet honey, vanilla beans, cinnamon, and a gentle, warming alcohol sweetness at the finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a potent winter sipper. It’s 11 percent ABV and should be treated as such. All of that aside, it’s surprisingly mellow, sweet, fruity, spicy, and easy to drink. Almost too easy.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Great Lakes

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $14 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This award-winning seasonal beer was created to literally taste like Christmas in a glass, with flavors like fresh ginger, honey, and cinnamon. It’s sweet, memorable, a great gift for a friend or family member, and a great beer to bring to a holiday gathering.

Tasting Notes:

This is a very aptly named beer as it begins with a nose of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, clover honey, and sweet caramel. On the palate, you’ll find notable hints of cloves, pine needles, candied orange peels, toffee, and wintry spices. The finish is a nice mix of fruitcake-like sweetness and bitter citrus.

Bottom Line:

This beer is like a fruitcake in a glass. And, while we can’t stomach the food, it shines in beer form. It’s a truly memorable holiday brew.

Almanac Ugly Sweater LOVE IPA

Almanac Ugly Sweater LOVE IPA
Almanac

ABV: 6.1%

Average Price: $89 in Almanac’s Advent Beer Box Twelve Pack

The Beer:

There are few contemporary traditions more beloved than the “ugly sweater” party. This festive brew pays homage to this new tradition. Brewed with rolled oats, Pilsner malts, and dry-hopped with Citra, Sabro, and Mosaic hops, it’s like a warm not-so-ugly sweater.

Tasting Notes:

This is a holiday beer for people who hate holiday beers. This seasonal, winter IPA begins with aromas of ripe pineapple, mango, melon, and zesty, piney hops. The palate is highlighted by more tropical fruit flavor, caramel malts, sweet cereal notes, citrus zest, and dank, piney, floral hops at the finish.

Bottom Line:

This is the kind of beer you’ll crack open at a holiday party only to be knocked back by the bold flavors that somehow magically work on a cold, winter day.

Avery Old Jubilation

Avery Old Jubilation
Avery

ABV: 8.3%
Average Price: $4.99 for a 12-ounce can

The Story:

You can tell from this beer’s name that you’re in for a classic, wintry beer. This 8.3 percent ABV English strong ale is brewed with Black, Bonlander Munich, Chocolate, 2-Row, and Gambrinus Honey malts as well as London ale yeast. It’s high in alcohol, rich, and exceedingly warming on a cold winter night.

Tasting Notes:

A lot is going on with this beer’s nose. There are complex aromas of raisins, dried cherries, chocolate fudge, toasted vanilla beans, cinnamon, and an herbal, memorable backbone. One sip lets you know that you’re in for an exciting experience. There are notes of maple candy, butterscotch, dried fruits, cinnamon, cloves, caramel malts, and gentle, spicy hops at the end to round everything together.

Bottom Line:

This just might be the best holiday beer. It’s rich, sweet, and so full of flavor that it might take you multiple tastings to find and properly savor them all.

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