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The best Christmas beers to drink this holiday season

'Tis the season to eat, drink beer, and be merry

Holiday dinner table at home.
izzet ugutmen / Shutterstock

Whether you’re ready for it or not, the holidays have arrived like a candy-cane-shaped, eggnog-fueled train riding on a gingerbread track. This means there will be parties, get-togethers, presents, and more heavy, indulgent meals than anyone could be ready for. Luckily, beer is here to save the holidays.

There are countless Christmas and holiday-themed beers on the market and each one is perfectly suited to be paired with the 800th viewing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or an evening spent frosting sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees. Keep scrolling to see some of our favorites.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale.
St. Bernardus

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

This dark abbey ale out of Belgium is the perfect contrast to ugly winter weather. Big and malty with a mahogany hue, the Christmas Ale is deceptively heavy at around 10% ABV. There are candied fruit flavors too, along with an almost-floral element to the nose.

Great Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale.
Great Lakes Brewing

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Kissed by flavors of honey and ginger, the Christmas Ale from Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing is a delightful holiday treat. It’s moderately hoppy and plenty rich, a nice match for gamey dishes like duck or lamb.

Samuel Smith Winter Welome beer.
Samuel Smith Old Brewing

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome

Out of merry old England, this beer offers opulent flavors of honey and dark fruit. It’s incredibly smooth with lots of nuance, so pour it in a tulip glass or snifter and let the good times roll.

Mad Elf beer surrounded by cherries.
Troegs Independent Brewing / Facebook

Troegs Mad Elf

Pennsylvania’s Tröegs Brewing releases Mad Elf each year, a strong Belgian ale made with local honey and five varieties of cherries. The spicy yeast strain shows through and while it’s a great sipper on its own, it’s also good with seasonal eats like glazed ham and sweet potatoes. It pours a vibrant red, making it a true holiday hit. Be advised, it’s a heady one at 11% ABV.

Anderson Valley Winter Solstaice seasonal ale
Anderson Valley / Facebook

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

Anderson Valley celebrates in style with its Winter Solstice release. It’s creamy, with toffee and vanilla notes and a bit of spice. The brewery recommends enjoying it with a slice of pumpkin pie or some roasted almonds and aged cheddar.

Deschutes Jubelale 2021.
Deschutes

Deschutes Jubelale

Another beer that flexes both a new recipe and accompanying label design every year, Jubelale is almost always worth the wait. The latest edition of the festive winter ale is 6.7% ABV and made from five kinds of malts as well as five hop varieties. It tastes of baking chocolate and features a nice level of complexity, not to mention a cool label with snowy mountain trees and a full moon.

Chimay Premiere Red Premiere Red beer.
Chimay

Chimay Premiere Red

While not technically a holiday beer, this excellent release from esteemed Belgian brewery Chimay might as well be. It’s especially popular around the holidays as it boasts wintery flavors and makes for a great gifting item. You and yours will love its silky makeup and wine-like complexity.

Victory Merry Monkey
Victory Brewing Company

Victory Merry Monkey

Merry Monkey from Pennsylvania’s renowned Victory Brewing Company is a 10% ABV Belgian-style ale that gets its holiday spiced flavor from the addition of cranberry, orange peel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Its flavor profile should be pretty obvious based on the description. Yeasty Belgian flavors make way for holiday spices, tart cranberries, cinnamon, and candied orange peel. It’s like they took all the reasonably good flavors from fruit cake and added them to a beer. It’s a warming, spiced beer that pairs well with cold nights and good times with friends and family. And possibly fruitcake if you’re into that sort of thing.

Shiner Holiday Cheer
Shiner

Shiner Holiday Cheer

Texas-based Shiner is known for its popular Bock Beer. But if you limit yourself to that beer, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Especially during the holidays. Shiner Holiday Cheer is a unique, seasonal beer. This crushable, 5.4% classic German dunkelweizen is brewed with Texas-grown peaches and slow-roasted pecans. The result is a wintry beer that begins with a nose loaded with ripe peaches and nutty sweetness and carries on into a palate of dried fruits, candied nuts, and juicy peaches. It’s a tropical, nutty take on the classic holiday ale you won’t soon forget.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve
Rogue

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve

The most exciting thing about Rogue Ales’ annual Santa’s Private Reserve is the fact that every year the beer is completely different. You never know what the mad geniuses at Rogue Ales will think of. For the 2023 version, it made a Toffee Chocolate Stout adorned with the bearded man himself sans sleeves, heavily tattooed, and shredding on an electric guitar. What could say “Happy Holidays” better than that, right? The beer itself is indulgent and borderline dessert-like with a ton of chocolate, caramel, and roasted malts.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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