At the first sight of snow, some run for skis and snowboards, some run for shelter in fear of the season to come, others… run for their favorite Christmas beer. You can guess where we would land on that spectrum (beer, along with a bit of snowboarding thrown in for good measure). When the temperature finally goes below that 40 degree mark, the first thing in our hands will be the perfect winter beer. Or Christmas beer, or spiced beer, or holiday beer, or winter warmers. Fall got us primed, but oh the decadence at Christmas is in full swing!
What are Christmas Beers?
Whatever you call them, you can bet our hands are wrapped around one of them – gloved though they may be. So, what actually makes a beer a Christmas beer? In all reality, a Christmas beer is whatever you want it to be. Remember, we make our own rules around here. But if you insist on some guidelines, Christmas beers (or holiday beers or spiced beers…) are generally dark in color, bold in flavors, and have a high ABV.
Many of them are spiced with flavors of the season, giving a certain comfort that we expect from said season, reminding us of that perfect Christmas Day. Reminders of decadent desserts, spiced ciders, and that divinely made cup of hot cocoa.
Christmas Beers to Bring you Cheer!
If you’re familiar with Christmas beers, then you’ve heard of Anchor’s Christmas Ale (which was sadly shelved in 2023, as Anchor’s parent company closed the doors and put it up for sale) and Sierra Nevada’s Celebration. These have long been two of the most popular Christmas beers around. And while these classics are holiday traditions for many, why not try some new ones, too. Keep on scrolling for a few more Christmas beers to get you started on your holiday shopping celebrations. By that we mean, when done shopping, sit back, relax, and happy sipping.
Keep in mind, though, some of these beers are limited releases and may only be available in the taproom for a set period of time. If that’s the case, use these beers as a guide to get you started and head out to your local craft brewery for their Christmas beers.
When we show up for Christmas dinner there are a few things we expect. Things like sharing greetings with long missed family to deep political arguments (yes, we do that). The greatest of all though is the wafting scent of dessert spices. In these beers you’ll find a brilliant array of cinnamons, vanillas, and many more holiday spices!
Winter Warmer @ 6.9% ABV
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
“Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.”(Anderson Valley Brewing)
Imperial Stout with Spices @ 13% ABV
Prairie Artisan Ales
Oklahoma City, OK
This imperial stout is brewed with plenty of cheerful spices including cacao nibs, chilies, various Christmas spices, coffee, and vanilla.
It is sure to take that grinch heart of yours and instantly grow it a minimum of two sizes.
If there is anything one mustn’t forget, it is that Santa isn’t the only one deserving of a creamy treat this Christmas. These milk stouts bring an exquisite dark beer experience to the holidays with a perfect balance of creamy sweetness. You might even consider dunking a cookie in them.
Milk Stout @ 6.0% ABV
Left Hand Brewing Company
With more awards than you have fingers and toes (unless you have 39 of ’em), if you need a milk stout, this is the tried and true.
You cannot go wrong with something as sweet as creamer in your coffee and bitter as… coffee in your coffee.
Milk Stout @ 11% ABV
New Holland Brewing
In keeping with tradition, “Dragon’s Milk has been a term used to describe potent ales that were bestowed in celebration at the end of a journey.” (New Holland)
So at the end of your long journey braving the cold, you can sit down with a bottle full of notes of coffee and chocolate with sweet undertones of vanilla.
(Not Hot) Chocolate
There is nothing more cozy than a perfect cup of hot cocoa on those cold winter nights we all know and love (and sometimes hate). Whether you want something simple and chocolaty or complex, these adult “hot chocolates” will help you reach peak coziness.
Chocolate Stout @ 5.8% ABV
Rogue Ales and Spirits
By adding a nitro charge to their already decadent chocolate stout, this is the smoothest, creamiest not hot chocolate.
Trust me when I say, you will want to be drinking this by the fire with a nice toasted marshmallow.
Milk Stout @ 5.7% ABV
The Brew Kettle
“With a deceptively light body for such a dark and decadent beer, we take a traditional milk stout and add a sultry addition of Chocolate, Coconut, and Vanilla.
This beer has enough dark flavors to survive the winter cold, while waves of coconut remind us of a tropical paradise.” (The Brew Kettle)
While winter ale can be hard to give a strict definition to, we can definitely say that it has one purpose and one purpose only, comfort. These beers give us an optimum darker-than-average flavor and a hint of extra ABV to be the idyllic pairing when cozying up with your sweetie or your pups by the fire!
Imperial Winter Ale @ 8.0% ABV
A dark winter ale with warm chocolate and malt flavors perfect for keeping you warm when it is damn cold outside!
Winter Ale ignites your taste buds with notes of toffee, caramel and chocolate with graham cracker, dried fruit, burnt and spiced notes.
Wintery Golden Ale @ 8.6% ABV
Allagash Brewing Company
Snow Report is a saison brewed with local Maine wildflower honey. Maybe not the dark chocolaty beer you’d expect for winter, but a nice full beer with notes of apple, melon, and honey, will bring you comfort all the same.
There’s Always Room for Dessert Beers
Okay, we get it. Maybe we’ve already explored a few dessert beers at this point. But these beers deserve a category all their own with their rich dark chocolate, spiced caramel, and vanilla flavors. Just like at Christmas dinner, there’s always room for dessert beers.
Imperial Stout @ 8.7% ABV
Wicked Weed Brewing
Brewed with Wicked Weed’s neighbors in mind, this stout is filled with raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Proceeds from this beer go to helping those in need in Wicked Weed’s community in true holiday fashion.
Cream Ale @ 5.0% ABV
Bent Paddle Brewing
Inspired by the traditional Minnesota Christmas cookie, the spritz, this ale will send you right into Christmas dessert.
With notes of vanilla, almond, and cardamom, it will almost be like you’re sitting down eating a cookie with every sip.
Heck, you could even pair it with a spritz for an even better time!
Christmas Beers for All!
While our family celebrates Christmas in the mountains of Colorado, we are not the only family. Your holiday flavors can be found almost anywhere in one or more of the almost 10,000 craft breweries in the U.S. Whatever you choose to enjoy this Christmas, if you’re drinking it during the holidays, it’s a Christmas beer, and your options are endless. Start here for ideas, and then check out your local breweries, and find the perfect festive beers for your own festivities!
May your holidays be full of warmth and beer!
From our friends and family to yours! Cheers!
Holiday Traditions with Beer
Why not start some new traditions built around craft beer experiences. It’s much more enjoyable than ordinary shopping.
Need more gift ideas?
And when you want to give gifts with meaning for the craft beer lover in your life, start here.