Santa's Little Helper, Port Brewing Co.
With hints of caramel and nutmeg, this black-as-night nectar is surprisingly smooth for a Russian Imperial Stout, a style that often punches the palate with a lingering burnt-coffee taste. But beware, this easy-to-imbibe quality—plus the fact it clocks in at 10% abv (Guinness is 5%) and comes in a 22-ounce bottle—is why fans refer to it as Santa’s Little Hangover.
Jewbelation Sweet 16, Shmaltz Brewing Co.
Many wrote Shmaltz off as a gimmicky outfit when it came out with its hilarious He’Brew: The Chosen Beer in 1996. Sixteen years and several awards later, Shmaltz is a fixture at Whole Foods. This year’s Hanukkah brew pays homage to its B-day, infusing 16 different malts and 16 strains of hops to create a 16%-abv beer with dark chocolate, toffee and blueberry notes.
Blitzen Festivus Ale, North Peak Brewing Co.
After the Seinfeld holiday and its traditional metal pole tree entered the zeitgeist with the catchy motto “Festivus for the rest of us,” it didn’t take long for the beer world to create a brew for the occasion. Michigan’s North Peak’s amber-hued ale has a pleasant sour nose, and washes down crisp and light, with deep whispers of honeydew, baked bread and maple syrup.
Jubelale Winter Ale, Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes, a worthy darling of the craft beer industry, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of Jubelale, the Bend, Oregon-based brewery’s original seasonal offering. Built for the start of ski season, it’s a malty brew with an earthy base and boasts notes of honey, and campfire s’mores—minus the chocolate. If you spy a sixer, buy it; beer geeks tend to snatch this up fast.
2012 Christmas Ale, Anchor Brewery
San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery has produced their vintage-dated Christmas ale for the past 38 years. Available from early November through mid-January, each annual release boasts a unique recipe as well as a unique tree-adorned label, hand drawn by a local artist. A rich, dark spiced ale, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is the perfect holiday beer that also ages beautifully.Available in 12-ounce 6-packs or magnums, perfect for group entertaining or as an unforgettable gift for that special someone.
8 Malty Nights, Lompoc Brewing
Portland-based Lompoc Brewing brews their Hanukkah-themed beer alongside seasonal offerings, including their Blitzen Spiced Golden Ale, C-Sons Greetings Imperial IPA and Holiday Cheer Vanilla Porter. 8 Malty Nights is a chocolate rye porter that features an intense roasted chocolate flavor and a decadently rich finish. The addition of English-style hops help to keep the sweetness in check, while the rye adds a pleasant peppery accent to the chocolate core. Delicious with braised brisket with latkes.
Old Jubilation Ale, Avery Brewing Co.
Known for producing world-class craft beers, Avery’s seasonal release is sure to be a welcome addition to any home during the holiday season. There are no spices added to this winter strong ale, but the malt bill results in notes of roasted nuts, toasted grain and touch of cocoa powder. An English Old Ale, this has enough strength (8.3%) and flavor to pair with a wide variety of traditional winter fare, including red meat, game and herbed chicken entrées.