By Chris Maza
The first snowfall has graced our roofs just in time for Christmas and with that, there appears to be no better time to make my suggestions for holiday beer sipping selections.
I’ve been very excited by some winter offerings this year, especially because there has been some real deviations from the norm, which is to say brewers are not relying solely on spices to make a beer feel like a winter beverage. Don’t get me wrong, the spiced options remain very good, but creativity is one of the things that makes craft beer such an interesting industry for both brewers and drinkers alike.
Global Warmer, Sixpoint Brewery
Located in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sixpoint has been one of those companies willing to push the boundaries in the past and its take on the winter warmer style makes for a delightfully different concoction. Even its containers are unorthodox, as the beer comes in tall, slim, 12-ounce cans (or on tap, wherever you can find it).
Sixpoint’s brewers, the self-titled “Mad Scientists,” steered away from the typical maltiness associated with many winter brews with a generous infusion of hops. With 70 IBUs (international bitterness unit) giving it a nice, crisp bitterness to compliment the sweet caramel malts and a dash of spices, and a reasonable 7 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), Global Warmer is tops on this holiday list.
Prelude Special Ale, Shipyard Brewing Company
I’ll readily admit that the purchase of this beer was initiated by the painting of a classic New England setting on the packaging - that and the knowledge that Shipyard has very rarely offered a letdown. The Portland, Maine, based brewery has produced a terrific beer that truly gives one that warming feeling that is so good on a blustery winter day.
The dark amber liquid possesses terrific aromas that induce mouth watering as soon as it hits the glass. It has a thicker mouth feel than you would expect, but possesses a smoothness like you’d get while sucking on a butterscotch candy. Caramel and butterscotch with a touch of chocolate and nuttiness mix with some fruits and a subtle hop character. This is one to sit back and enjoy.
White Christmas, Samuel Adams
Yes, this one has it’s fair share of spices, but the fact that they are added to a white ale, traditionally associated with summertime drinking because of its light body and use of wheat and fruit – primarily citrus – is what makes this one unique. The citrus, spices, cinnamon and nutmeg are melded very well and a subtle hop profile help round this one out to a very satisfying finish. It’s smooth and light bodied with ample carbonation, making it a very easy drinker.
Christmas Ale, Breckenridge Brewery
While I tend to try to focus these columns on beers from the Northeast, this one from a Colorado company caught my fancy and should be shared as it is one that I think a wide variety of beer drinkers could enjoy during holiday functions.
More of a traditional holiday ale with a nice array of spices, it isn’t overdone and still contains a generous amount of hops to go along with roasted malts, which all combine for a complex, yet very drinkable brew. While some of the other beers on this list are perfect for sitting back and watching the snow fly, this is one I would see a group clutching while going out into the front yard to build a snowman.
With these suggestions humbly before you, I’d like to wish all of Reminder Publications’
loyal readers a merry Christmas and a wonderful and safe holiday season. May 2014 find you all well.