The holidays are not always an easy time of year. The nights are long, the temperatures are cold, and the extended family is… around. So come late November, we need the best holiday craft beers we can find.
Thankfully, we’re not alone. Craft beer makers produce some of their best (and most alcoholic) creations this time of year.
Here’s what we’ll be drinking:
Christmas Ale — Anchor Brewing
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Style: Winter Warmer
Anchor Brewing is sort of an institution in the City by the Bay. The brewery has been in operation for more than a century, and is widely considered America’s first producer of craft beer.
The recipe for Anchor’s Christmas Ale changes every year, as does the hand-drawn label design. That’s made the beer a highly-anticipated (and often collected) item among craft beer snobs.
This beer is available in craft beer stores almost everywhere, but only from mid-November to late January. This video details the tradition behind its brewing.
Mad Elf — Tröegs Brewing
Hometown: Hershey, Pa.
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Mad Elf is to Pennsylvania what Anchor Christmas Ale is to San Francisco. For many craft beer lovers in the Keystone State, the annual release of Mad Elf marks the beginning of the holiday season.
The beer is thick and sweet, which can make it a bit syrupy when cold. Pour it at room temperature to bring out the spices and improve the mouthfeel.
Be careful with this one—the sweet flavor and high alcohol content pack a serious hangover punch.
Samichlaus — Schloss Egenberg
Hometown: Vorchdorf, Austria
Samichlaus is sort of a legend among beer snobs. The beer was once the strongest in the world, but its high gravity has now been surpassed several times over.
The beer is brewed just once a year on December 6 (St. Nicholas’s Day), and is aged for 10 months before its release the following October.
The beer remains one of the world’s best holiday seasonal brews. Rich and boozy, it’s best served at room temperature and sipped by a roaring fire.