By Pat Smith, Kevin Hussey and Matt Goldstein
Winter ales actually date back to the times of the Pagans and were believed to be originally brewed and drank for celebration of the winter solstice. After the birth of Christ, winter ales and Christmas Ales were made each year to celebrate Christmas, especially in brewing monasteries. Monks don’t talk much and unfortunately they’re celibate, but hey, they make some damn good beer.
The Santa’s Little Helper is a must try for all beer lovers and maybe the best seasonal beer out there. Especially for malt lovers, Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper Russian Imperial Stout puts the MALT in stout. It’s simply a phenomenal brew. With notes of chocolate, roasted malts and caramel, Santa’s Little Helper is one of our favorite stouts and we wish it was available year round. 9.5% ABV, Port Brewing. Pizza Port, CA.
Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale:
The Old Man Winter Ale is an old ale style seasonal brew by Southern Tier Brewing. Our clear number 2 of the season, Southern Tier seems to bring it every time they make a beer. Reddish brown in color, and having beautiful notes of malts and barley with hints of light hops, the Old Man Winter Ale has a smooth but complex finish. 7.2% ABV, Southern Tier Brewing Co. Lakewood, NY.
The Winter Welcome is Honey-amber-colored and creamy with a head of small bubbles. Having a floral aroma and delicious malt flavor, the Sam Smith winter welcome style seasonal ale is very drinkable with a great bite. 6.0% ABV, Sam Smith Old Brewery. Yorkshire, UK.
Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi:
Beer Advocate refers to this style as a Biere de Garde. The Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi is gold in color and actually bittered with the bark of Frankincense, and mixed with a small amount of Myrrh which is an herb that has roots in ancient winemaking as well. The Gift of the magi can also be considered a golden ale. 10.0% ABV, Lost Abbey Brewing. San Marcos, CA.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale:
The Celebration Ale is rich and robust in malts with dry hops and won medals at numerous beer competitions, including gold. The Celebration Ale sets the bar for seasonal IPA’s. 6.80% ABV, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Chico, CA.
Weyerbacher Winter Ale:
Winner of multiple medals and deep in rich malts, the Weyerbacher Winter Ale has a roasty flavor with a dry finish. 5.6% ABV, Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Easton, PA.
Petrus Winter Ale:
The Petrus Winter Ale is a Dark Belgian Ale and dark brown in color. Not very thick for a seasonal winter brew but having notes of fruit and spice, The Petrus Winter Ale is slightly sour and complex. 6.5% ABV, Brouwerij Bavik. Belgium.
The Hoppin Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale:
Brewed with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, the Frosted Frog is a clear dark reddish brown color with a light spicy sweet scent almost like a spiced wafer cookie. With a beautiful heavy malt flavor, the spices in the finish and aftertaste work very well. With 12 IBU’s and 8.6% ABV, the Frosted Frog Christmas Ale is a Winter Warmer brewed by Hoppin Frog in Akron Ohio and pairs well with Pumpkin Pie and Turkey. http://www.hoppinfrog.com
The Sly Fox Christmas Ale:
The Sly Fox Christmas Ale is back for another year. After a successful run in 2008 & 2009, the Sly Fox brewery did not disappoint this year. With 16 IBU’s and 6.50% ABV, the 2010 Slyfox Christmas Ale has hints of peppermint, ginger, nutmeg and a semi-sour taste. Red in color, this Christmas ale has a great bite and aromatic hops. “If this one doesn’t get you into the Christmas spirit, you truly are a Scrooge.”
The 21st Amendment Fireside Chat Winter Spice Ale:
The Fireside Chat Ale is an ode to FDR’s depression era radio addresses which were like a “kick in the butt and a hug at the same time. At 45 IBU’s and 7.90% ABV, the Fireside Chat Ale is a ruby red color with a light Belgian nose. This winter ale has a smoky flavor and great kick. Made with pale, Munich, wheat and chocolate malts, balanced with magnum and Goldings hops and top fermenting yeast, the 21st Amendment Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale has spices and cocoa added. A is a solid winter ale.
Source: Beer Advocate and Weyerbacher
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