Thirsty Scholar: Season for Holiday Ales

by on 08/17/2012 - 10:23 am

Category: Smart Living

by Matt Lasher

For some people it’s the arrival of Black Friday. For Ralphie it was the unveiling of the Higbees’s department store holiday window display. For me, however, the high water mark of the pre-holiday season officially begins the moment I set foot in the local beer store to find the warm and cheerful labels of holiday ales lining the shelves.

For centuries people have celebrated the arrival of the holiday season with festive drinks, and modern-day brewers have done much to ensure that this tradition continues. The following are but three examples of the hundreds of outstanding holiday beers out there. For more information on the fascinating history of these eclectic brews, including further recommendations, check out Don Russell’s book Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews.

For the Beginner: Great Lakes Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Co.)
• A staple in restaurants and bars around Northeast Ohio during the holiday season, Great Lakes Christmas Ale boasts an assertive spice note, featuring ginger and cinnamon.

For the Beer Snob: Anchor’s 2010 Christmas Ale (Anchor Brewing Co.)
• Like many other breweries, Anchor Brewing Company releases a limited edition holiday ale this time of year, but the similarities end there. Since 1975, each release of Anchor’s Christmas Ale has featured a completely new recipe and label (featuring a different “Christmas tree”) for their Christmas Ale. This year’s featured tree is the Ginkgo biloba, and as for the recipe, well, telling you would just ruin the surprise…

For the I-Don’t-Mind-Spending-Upwards-of-$20-on-a-Six-Pack Beer Snob: Tröegs Mad Elf Ale (Tröegs Brewing Company)
• Brewed with cherries, honey, chocolate malt, and a special Belgian yeast, don’t expect Mad Elf to look, smell, or taste like any holiday beer you’ve had before. At 11% alcohol by volume (ABV), Tröegs Mad Elf is the perfect sipping beer for those cold winter evenings.

Up Next Time… What to get your beer lover for the holidays.

Cheers (with beers)!

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