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Special thanks to Brenda + Ken Yablonsky + Mark Moody for their input! 

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Holiday Hops

Six Holiday Brews for Your Seasonal Celebrations

December is typically full of parties and BYOB get-togethers. The stores are overflowing with seasonal beers, so it can be difficult to know which six-pack to bring to the celebration. The one with the most Christmassy bottle? The one with the funniest name? It seems an impossible task to choose without tasting them all.

No worries, we did the hard work for you this season. Four friends gathered to pop the top on six holiday beers to see which would bubble to the top of our Christmas lists. One thing that became clear is that everyone likes something different–none of us had the same favorite. We hope our descriptions make it easy to grab one of these holiday hops from a local grocery store en route to your next holiday event. 

[p 3 sidebar] Author's Note: Many of our local breweries did not have their winter beers available at press time. We apologize if your favorite beer was missed. 

12 Dogs of Christmas Ale

Brewery: Thirsty Dog

Style: Christmas Ale

ABV: 8.3%

The Flavor: Nutmeg, ginger + cinnamon

Overall: This spicy ale overflows with flavor and finishes with a bite that’s similar to a gingersnap. The most Christmassy tasting of the bunch.

Dad Hoppy Holiday Ale

Brewery: Rhinegeist

Style: Red Ale

ABV: 6%

The Flavor: Dark caramel

Overall: A hoppy red ale that’s as comfortable to drink as dad’s old flannel is to wear. It has a dark caramel flavor with a hint of something sweet and slightly piney.

The Mad Elf

Brewery: Tröegs

Style: Belgian Dark Ale

ABV: 11%

The Flavor: Honey + cherries

Overall: A delicious Belgian beer with strong honey flavor and just a touch of cherry. A pleasant winter option for fans of wheat beers.

Christmas Ale

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Style: Christmas Ale

ABV: 7.5%

The Flavor: Spices + honey

Overall: Celebrating its 30th year in production, this hoppy brew is slightly spicy with notes of honey, cinnamon and ginger. A hearty beer, perfect for sipping around a fire.

Hoppy Christmas

Brewery: Brewdog

Style: Christmas IPA

ABV: 6%

The Flavor: Hoppy + fruity 

Overall: If your holiday celebrations take you south, you’ll enjoy this fruity IPA infused with flavors like pineapple, papaya and citrus. The taste will transport you to the tropics.

Holiday Cheer

Brewery: Shiner

Style: Dark Wheat Ale

ABV: 5.4%

The Flavor: Peaches + pecans

Overall: Celebratory and full of fruity flavors, it has a strong peach start and finishes with a subtle hint of pecan. A nice, happy beer reminiscent of the south with zero aftertaste.

  • Special thanks to Brenda + Ken Yablonsky + Mark Moody for their input!