Top 10 holiday beers

Devon Recktenwald

Winter has come and with it comes a plethora of holiday drinks. While Samuel Adams is one of the few to get its holiday brews on a national level, there are plenty of local breweries bringing their own holiday flavors and cheer. 

Great Lakes Brewing Company — Christmas Ale 

Brewed nearby in Cleveland, Ohio, Great Lakes Christmas Ale has won silver or gold six times in the World Beer Championships since 1999. Described as “a Yuletide’s worth of holiday spices and sweet honey,” this beer pairs great with cinnamon sugar on the rim. With the perfect blend of malts and hops, whoever coined the phrase “do not open ’til Christmas” hadn’t tried a Great Lakes Christmas Ale before.

Fat Head’s Brewery — Holly Jolly Christmas Ale 

Though they have a few different locations around the country, the closest and home to the seasonal Holly Jolly is in North Olmsted. The sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice are mixed together to create the nostalgia of Christmas morning.

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company — 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale

This seasonal beer is brewed just up the street in Akron. Only available from Nov. 1 until Christmas day, it sums up the idea of bringing the best together to celebrate. With the flavors of honey, spice and nutmeg, Thirsty Dog labels it as “the perfect libation, filled with flavors for the season.”

Troeg’s Independent Brewing — Mad Elf

This beer is brewed in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and features the ingredient they’re known for best; chocolate. Brewed only once a year with Balafon Cherries, this is the special blend that helped to put Troeg’s on the map. The ripe cherries, raw honey and cocoa helped them to be rated number one in Joe Sixpacks Christmas Beers Book.

Penn Brewery — St. Nikolaus Bock Bier

Not far from Mad Elf, this Bock Bier is brewed in Pittsburgh. Though it still features the chocolate hint, this brew is much more bitter. Even with a slight burnt flavoring, St. Nikolaus Bock Bier was able to secure a silver medal in the 2011 Great American Beer Festival. 

Rogue Ale — Santa’s Private Reserve

Originating in Newport, Oregon, Santa’s Private Reserve is a blend of candi sugar, cherries and raspberries. With the brew being slightly altered each year, the 2017 Belgian strong ale delivers a delicious sweet and tart flavor. Rogue claims the beer is “endorsed by the real Santa.” 

Port Brewing Company — Santa’s Little Helped

This imperial stout is brewed in San Marcos, California. Where some holiday beers are meant to bring nostalgia of snow and togetherness, this one is aimed right for the desserts. The dark cocoa and coffee aroma make it a great pair with that leftover fruit cake and sugar cookies.

The Bruery — 10 Lords-A-Leaping

Another California beer, this one from Orange County, 10 Lords-A-Leaping is the tenth in their Twelve Beers of Christmas saga. With only this and 9 Ladies Dancing not in retirement, they become very popular over the holiday season. Different from traditional winter warmers, this brew features 10 different spices including orange peel, cinnamon, nut meg and dried apples to bring together a dark, fruited character.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company — Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Brewed in Boonville, California, Winter Solstice serves as a traditional winter warmer. Running longer than most seasonal beers, September — January, it features hints of toffee, spice and caramel to withstand the changing of seasons. Paired well with ham, candied yams, pumpkin pie and holiday cookies, it has everything one needs for the entire winter solstice. 

Anchor Brewing — Christmas Ale

After 43 years of serving San Francisco with Christmas Ale, Anchor Brewing is changing things up. Every year it finds a new tree to base its new traditions off of, but the traditions remain the same. The company says, “since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with it’s seasons, appears born anew.” They feature the tree on the bottle each year and this year is no different. The 2017 blend has a strong malt profile with wintry spices to pour a deep, mahogany brown with a creamy, tan head.

Devon Recktenwald is the recruiting and retention reporter. Contact her at [email protected].