Anchor Christmas Ale is one of Dan's picks for Christmas
First of all, I’m taking next week off to do that whole holiday cheer thing. Merry Christmas to my loyal readership (numbering somewhere around 12 people).
‘Tis the season to sample the massive array of holiday beers that pop up at this time of year (some of the few seasonals that don’t come ridiculously early). I’ve been randomly sampling a few, you know, so that I can get into the Christmas spirit. Here’s the ubiquitous “beers of Christmas” list.
Anchor Christmas Ale: Anchor Brewing changes the recipe for this every year. This year the dark brown ale has a noticeable nutmeg and clove aroma. It’s got a somewhat spicy flavor but it isn’t too sweet. 5.5 percent ABV.
Sierra Nevada Celebration: This is one of my holiday favorites. Celebration doles out hops like Santa does candy canes. It’s got a sweet start and bitter finish. The amber pour is a good choice for holiday hop heads. 6.8 percent ABV.
Bell’s Christmas Ale: Bell’s makes a Christmas ale with a hint of hops. Their take is another good choice for those who don’t care for overwhelming sweetness or a crazy amount of spice. 5.4 percent ABV.
Boulevard Nutcracker Ale: At nearly 8 percent alcohol, this is indeed a winter warmer. It’s slightly boozy with an initial big malty sweetness that is tempered by a hint of hop bitterness. 7.8 percent ABV.
Hoppin’ Frog Frosted Frog: Big flavor all around. Ideal for those who like heavy doses of spice and a fair amount of sweetness. It’s heavy on the malt and has a noticeable cinnamon and nutmeg flavor. The hint of booze will keep you warm while you’re roasting chestnuts, singing carols or doing whatever it is you do during Christmas. 8.6 percent ABV.
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus: Three Floyds Brewing loves its hops (you get the impression that they add it to the chicken soup at the Three Floyds brewpub). Alpha Klaus is an excellent use of our bitter little green friends. The rich dark porter has a nice hop bitterness at the end that balances out the beer. I’m not a huge fan of porters, but I liked this one. 6 percent ABV.
Goose Island Christmas Ale: Be careful with this one and don’t drink too many at the office party. The 7.3 percent alcohol is pretty well hidden in the nutty brown ale that features a hint of hops. As an added bonus, I really liked the label. 7.3 percent ABV.
Lakefront Holiday Spice: Now’s the time of year to be a sucker for nostalgia. Holiday Spice was the first Christmas beer I ever tried (years ago when options were limited). But I still dig its bold combination of booze, spice and sweetness. It’s a winter warmer by definition. 11 percent ABV.
A Last-Minute Gift Idea Courtesy of Ray’s
February seems pretty far away, but in terms of events at Ray’s Wine & Spirits (8930 W. North Ave.), it’s right around the corner. The Feb. 12 Founders Brewing/Indulgence Chocolates tasting should be nothing short of outstanding. Founders crafts excellent beer, and chocolate is, well, chocolate. If Founders brings Kentucky Breakfast Stout, then your $20 ticket is gold. Even if they don’t, it’ll be a great event. Call 414-258-9821 to make a reservation.
If the Mayan’s right and the world does indeed end on Dec. 21, the few dozen beers I have “cellaring” will be an utter waste.
I heard through a trusted source that only about two cases of Bourbon County Cherry Rye made it into Milwaukee. Santa’s not bringing any more either. Bummer.
Thursday, Dec. 20: Try Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Krampus Imperial Helles Lager, Timmerman’s Strawberry Lambic, and Southern Tier 2XMas at Discount Liquor Milwaukee (5031 W. Oklahoma Ave.) from 4-7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 20: Samples of winter warmers like Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Founders Breakfast Stout, Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and Oskar Blue Ten Fidy at Discount Liquor Waukesha (919 N. Barstow) from 3-6 p.m.
Saturday: Sample Christmas beers from 1-4 p.m. at Three Cellars (7133 S. 76th St.).