The KegWorks Holiday MANual – The 12 Beers of Christmas

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The 12 Beers of Christmas

There are more holiday beer releases than ever this year, and that’s a good thing.
The tough part is knowing which ones to drink, and how to make the most of each and every sip.
Lucky for you, we’re not only experts when it comes to drinking our way through the holidays, we’re willing to share what we’ve learned.

Holiday Trees



The 12 Beers of Christmas

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice
Beer: Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale
Brewery: Anderson Valley (Boonville, CA)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6.9%
Recommended Glass: Nonic pint glass
Serving Temperature: 40 – 45°F
Ideal Pairings: Turkey, ham, cranberries, yams, and a crackling fire.
Why It Made This List: Words don’t do this one justice, so you really must taste it for yourself. If you like the inviting aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon, cheerfully smooth notes of vanilla, and being thoroughly impressed, you definitely need to taste for yourself.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. Christmas Ale
Beer: Christmas Ale
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 7.5%
Recommended Glass: Belgian
Serving Temperature: 40 – 45°F
Ideal Pairings: From sugar cookies to Cornish game hen, we’re pretty sure this seasonal favorite pairs well with just about anything. Spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon, it’s often described as “the holidays in a bottle.” That being said, we’re going to add a little sentiment to the mix and say this one pairs best with the company of family and friends.
Why It Made This List: It’s our CEO’s favorite beer. Not favorite Christmas beer – favorite beer, period. It’s that good.
Mikkeller Santas Little Helper 2012
Beer: Santa’s Little Helper 2012
Brewery: Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 10.5%
Recommended Glass: Belgian, snifter, tulip, goblet, or oversized wine glass
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: A nice cut of beef, sharp cheddar, gorgonzola, and smooth holiday jazz.
Why It Made This List: Subtly spiced with sweet orange peel, cinnamon, cocoa, and four different varieties of hops, this is a world-class winter ale that’s worth seeking out.
Samuel Adams White Christmas
Beer: Samuel Adams White Christmas
Brewery: Boston Beer Company (Boston, MA)
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.8%
Recommended Glass: Nonic pint glass, pilsner glass, or stein
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: Fish, shellfish, peppery cheeses, and friends you’d like to introduce to craft beer.
Why It Made This List: Most people associate holiday beers with darker, bolder styles and this mild wheat beer is a refreshing change from the norm. Not only do the aroma and hints of spice evoke feelings of holiday cheer, this beer is much more sessionable than many others on the list.
Mad Elf Ale
Beer: Mad Elf Ale
Brewery: Tröegs Brewing Co. (Hershey, PA)
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11%
Recommended Glass: Belgian, snifter, tulip, goblet, or oversized wine glass
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: A beautifully grilled steak, Limburger cheese, and your best party shoes.
Why It Made This List: Pennsylvania honey and West Coast cherries make this ruby red seasonal a festive treat that’ll have you feeling extra cheery in no time.
YuleSmith
Beer: YuleSmith Holiday Ale
Brewery: AleSmith (San Diego, CA)
Style: American Amber
ABV: 9.5%
Recommended Glass: Nonic pint glass or stein
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: Pork tenderloin, sharp cheddar cheese on homemade bread, and a cozy night in.
Why It Made This List: This full-bodied beauty is definitely sweet and malty but not so much that you can’t taste the hops. Commonly ranked as one of the top five American Ambers, it’s an excellent example of the style and a real treat to drink.
Affligem Noel
Beer: Noël
Brewery: Brouwerij Affligem (Affligem, Belgium)
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 9%
Recommended Glass: Belgian, snifter, Tulip, goblet, or oversized wine glass
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: Its predominantly sweet fruit and Belgian yeast flavors complement BBQ pulled pork sliders, cheese fondue, and your best holiday sweater.
Why It Made This List: We can’t find a single thing wrong with it, and it’s perfect for sharing (just choose someone who’s been really good to you.)
Sierra Nevada Celebration
Beer: Celebration
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Recommended Glass: Fun pint glass or stein
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: Curried dishes, Thai food, salmon, or shellfish – and more beer.
Why It Made This List: It’s tasty and we needed to include something for the hop heads.
Anchor Brewing Our Special Ale
Beer: Our Special Ale
Brewery: Anchor Brewing (San Francisco, CA)
Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 5.5%
Recommended Glass: Nonic pint glass
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: Chicken/poultry entrees, desserts, and a long night – this one’s super drinkable. Enjoy notes of pine, cinnamon, and cocoa, while lounging fireside.
Why It Made This List: We’re big fans of holiday traditions and Anchor never disappoints with their seasonal treat.
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Old Man Winter Ale
Beer: Old Man (Winter Ale)
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Co. (Lakewood, NY)
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 7.7%
Recommended Glass: Nonic pint glass, snifter, or oversized wine glass
Serving Temperature: 50 – 55°F
Ideal Pairings: Pretty much anything, but especially Brie, Gouda, and other buttery cheeses.
Why It Made This List: It’s an easy drinker that’s festive but not too sweet. Well balanced and very well hopped, it reminds us a little bit of gingerbread.
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
Beer: Christmas Ale
Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV (Watou, Belgium)
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 10%
Recommended Glass: Belgian, snifter, tulip, goblet, or oversized wine glass
Serving Temperature: 45 – 50°F
Ideal Pairings: It doesn’t matter what you drink it with – just make sure you drink it.
Why It Made This List: It didn’t get an exceptional (and rare) Beer Advocate score of 92 for being average. If you only try one beer on this list, let it be this one.
Your Local Seasonal Brew
Beer: Your Hometown Brewery’s Seasonal
Brewery: Drinker’s Discretion
Style: They’ll tell you all about it, if you ask
ABV: Depends
Recommended Glass: One that you like to drink from
Serving Temperature: Cold (or warm) enough to taste good
Ideal Pairings: Lunch, dinner, and the warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you support a great business in your own community.
Why It Made This List: We support local breweries and we hope you do too.


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