Christmas Beers - A jolly guide to festive beer styles
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Not even 2 weeks until #Christmas is finally here. Even though it is going to a very special #festive season this year, we are still excited to share a joyful time with our loved ones live or maybe online. In this article we want to give you all a small #guide to the perfect beers you can serve your guests on Christmas #dinner, or just to enjoy on your own while watching "Home Alone" (or whatever Christmas movie does it for you). Here comes our incomplete list of #Christmassy beer styles, each one with an example beer we had recently.
What makes a beer Christmassy?
In almost every festive beer, it is the use of #spices and other additions that make them taste like liquid Christmas. The most common spices to use are the ones used for gingerbread: ginger, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. But there are of course dozens of spices and other things you can add to a jolly brew, as you will find out below. What also helps to create a warm feeling is of course some #booze to warm you up. That's why it is no coincidence that most of the following beer styles have an ABV that is slightly higher than in a refreshing summery brew. This is not only to warm you from the inside. #Alcohol is a flavor carrier and because this beers are typically using bold flavors, a higher alcohol content creates a beer that is even more flavorful.
Stouts are in our opinion one of the best styles for Christmas beers. With their deep and dark color, chocolate, cocoa and coffee flavors, they already remind you of coffee and cake in a warm living room. Stouts go perfectly well with almost any Christmassy spice you could imagine. Cinnamon and vanilla are some of the most common ones to use.
Cloudwater - Black Is Beautiful Stout
This beer is part of the worldwide collaboration project of Weathered Souls Brewing to support the Black Lives Matter movement, you can read all about this in our Better Together Blog where we reviewed this exact beer even more detailed. This stout comes with an ABV of 11% and was brewed with African cinchona bark, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks, dandelion root, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom pods, tonka beans, birch leaves, star anise and caraway seeds. Perfect to have with a tasty chocolaty dessert.
A Winter Warmer is originally a British beer style. It is a strong, malt forward style that was only brewed in the winter months. It has a really dark color, although not as dark as a stout, an ABV of 6 - 8% (some WW even go up to 10% and above) and caramelly, bready malt aromas on display.
Huyghe Brewery - Delirium Christmas
The Christmas version of world famous Delirium Tremens is only brewed for Christmas and New Year. It has a dark copper color and an ABV of 10%. The spices you can feel in this beer, like clove, are only coming from the yeast they used to ferment this beer, no spices were added. The flavors are malty sweet and the beer feels very warming but doesn't feel overly boozy. A perfect winter warmer to have with your Christmas roast.
Gruit was originally not a beer style but a mix of herbs for flavoring beer before hops became common for this purpose. The name Gruit origins in an area that is today covered by the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Germany. Today, Gruit is a term used for almost every beer that is brewed using Gruit-like herbs. It commonly included sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, horehound, and Calluna heather. But modern interpretations also use things like spruce tips, rosemary, star anise etc.
Uiltje Brewing Company - Most Wonderful Time For A Beer
The spices used in this tasty Gruit are a secret of the brewery and are not mentioned anywhere. The only thing Uiltje is saying about the herb mix is: "A medieval ale pimped with the type of obscure spices only free-foraging Gaelic’s would dare pluck". We think it tastes a lot like Christmas, is there some lavender in there? (Quote Simona). This beer features nice aromas of caramel and licorice. It would go perfectly with spiced Christmas cookies.
A historic ale brewed according to old #traditions, for example by using old brewing techniques or ingredients. Because of this very loose definition, not every Historical Ale is fitting the criteria of being a Christmassy beer. But because in the history of beer people used almost everything that had some kind of aroma to it to make beer, there are a lot of historical beers that would taste festive to us. People used often spices or honey, so together with the bready malt of the beer you get reminded of gingerbread for example.
ÜberQuell - Who the f**k is Knaust
This beer that we have featured in our recent top 3 beers of the month article (read it here) is a perfect example for a Historical Ale that has a Christmassy feeling to it. It was brewed with sea salt, lavender, cardamom and juniper berries. With its slightly smoky notes this ale would go perfectly with smoked raclette cheese.
Thanks for reading our Christmas Beer Style Guide. We hope you enjoyed it and found something you would want to try.
Have a wonderful festive season and a merry Christmas to all of our readers, tour guests and of course our wonderful partners.
Your Zurich Beer Tour Guides
P.s. Maybe leave one of those beers for Santa instead of milk and cookies this year, we think you will get the best Christmas gifts ever ;)