Figuratively sue us for not jumping on the pumpkin ale bandwagon this year.  We couldn't help ourselves.
 
It isn't that we don't like them.  We like some of themBut we just didn't feel it this year.  It was probably because we were so concerned with slaughter and phantoms to bother with them.
 
We won't make that mistake with Christmas beers.
 
This year we were among the many who eagerly heralded in the holiday season in northern Ohio with local monster craft brewer Great Lakes Brewing Company.
 
When their Christmas Ale is tapped by golly it is the Christmas season.
 
It wasn't even a week ago when at a local dive, all three of Cleveland's Christmas ales were lined up in front of us, nutmeg and sugar dripping down their pint glass rims, waiting for us to down them and get into the holiday spirit.  And we did.  It was a very spirited evening.
 
But unlike pumpkin beers who have gotten a bad rap these past few years, we welcome the Christmas ale season.  It reminds us of our childhood.
 
Er... the memories, not the beers.
 
So to keep our spirits high we decided to share with you our eight favorite Christmas themed beers from around the globe to hunt down and enjoy.  Because the alternative is shopping for presents.

We might be biased but for us this is the grandfather of Christmas beers.  It was snowing when we first moved here and the bartender slung a few pints of this our way when we asked for "something local."  Around the rim was a nutmeg and sugar coating.
 
Great Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale
PHOTO - Great Lakes Brewing
We shot skeptical glances at each other and took a sip.  We were sold.  We drank it until the snows melted and the kegs ran dry.  We would have to wait until July when GLBC brought out a limited amount of Christmas for... yup, Christmas in July.
 
Fat Heads Holly Jolly Yeah we went with another Ohio beer.
 
But you don't understand!  This really is Christmas in a bottle.  The spices and the sweetness are a bit more at the front than Great Lakes, but it follows the same formula.
 
There is an old wives tale that says a brewer left Great Lakes recipe in hand like Slugworth in Wonka's factory and crafted their own version of christmas ale.
 
That is how we got Holly Jolly.
 
We aren't sure if it's true or not but we love this beer.
 
For forty-three years California's Anchor brewing company has been putting out a winter warmer for the masses.  So maybe technically they are the grandfather of Christmas Beers.
Anchor Christmas Ale
 
Unlike some others, Anchor gets bored and each year their Christmas Ale is made with a different recipe and dressed in a different label.
 
This year the beer is malty, dark and creamy and the label is a native California tree, the Santa Lucia fir.  Regardless its worth the hunt to sip on this beer while watching a fire crackle or when opening presents on the big day.
 
No, it wont be too early for beer.
 
PHOTO - Wicked Weed

We might get some flack for this considering they were bought by ABInbev recently.  Actually it downright pisses us off, but since we are in the holiday spirit we will ignore it for this list.  They still make some of the craziest and most delicious beer, and reasons they sold aside, we miss living in Asheville because they were in our backyard.

 
Milk & Cookies is a beast.   It's an imperial milk stout that weighs in at a hefty 8.5% ABV and smells of cinnamon and vanilla.  With raisin.  Like they smushed a cinnamon raisin cookie in the bottle and topped it up with stout.
 
We will return to our regularly scheduled disappointment after we finish this beer.  Yours should be hitting shelves soon.
 

10 Lords-A-Leaping

The Bruery, Placentia, CA.

10 Lords a Leeping from the Bruery
PHOTO - The Bruery

If you know the Bruery, you know this is going to be good.  Known for their experimental beers, they started small but blossomed into something much much bigger.  Nowadays, beer nerds like us go in search for one-offs and rare beers made by The Bruery to share and show off to our beer nerd friends.

Don't judge.
 
As you can probably guess, 10 Lords-A-Leaping is the 10th in the series of Christmas beers produced by the California boutique, each year producing a different verse.  Sadly there's only two more to go...
 
This beer is a dark imperial wit, a Belgium inspired monster with a heavy 10.5% ABV and chock full of cinnamon, spice and everything nice.  Ten different spices to be exact.  Find it at your favorite clutch bottle shop.  They will nod appreciatively.
 

Delirium Christmas 

Huyghe Brewery, Belgium.

Delirium Noel Christmas Ale
Morgan Wujkowski

Seeing the pink Delirium elephant is usually a good sign that what you're about to drink is going to be good.  Very good.  Their Christmas Ale is no exception.  Our writer Scott Davis even stopped in while he was drinking his way around Brussels.

 
This beer is another traditional Christmas heavy weight.  All the spices are here in this deep red brew -cinnamon and vanilla and cherry.  Check out this write up from The Beer Diaries and we dare you not to get hungry reading the descriptions.
 
Sticking with the theme that Belgians make Christmas better, Pretty Lights is a tripel with cranberry and almond which gives it a slightly tart flavor.
They are a contract brewer so check out their social media to see where the beers are pouring in the Chicago area.  Want more of the story?  Check out this excellent interview from The Hop Review with ATB founder Dan Schedler.
 
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleThe California behemoth brews up one of the only Christmas beers that are an IPA.  Much like Anchor, this seasonal brew has been hitting shelves every year around the middle of October since 1981.
 
It really is a different kind of holiday brew.  Nowhere to be found are the holiday spices and warm fuzziness of other wintry pints.  Instead there is hops and IBUs.  Check it out the story behind Celebration as told by All About Beer.
 
 

And that's it.  Eight big, beautiful brews to enjoy no matter what part of the world you're snuggled up in.

Even though the list of different Christmas ales is as long as Santa's naughty list this year, these beers would be welcome in our mugs any time of the year.
 
What's your favorite Christmas beer?  Is drinking one with a nutmeg rim taboo?  Are you mad at us for mentioning Wicked Weed?  Let us know in the comments.
 
Cheers and good beers as always.
 
Have your favorite winter warmer that we didn't mention?  Mad that we didn't include your local brew?  Well we're still thirsty so let us know in the comments what we're missing so we can go try it and report back!  

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