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12 beers that give you holiday cheer(s): A tasting guide to seasonal winter beers

Posted by Faith Bennett on December 13, 2018

In Beer, Craft Beer, Holiday Entertaining

Winter seasonal beers are an annual tradition anticipated by beer enthusiasts and casual sippers a like. Each year, brewers set out to make their own winter warmer with seasonal spices and personal flares. This year, we are counting down to Christmas with these 12 festive beers. From robust dark ales to crisp IPAs, there is a holiday brew for every pallet.

Winter Seasonal Beer - Shiner Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer | Shiner

Brewed with juicy Texas peaches and roasted pecans, this old-world Dunkelweizen is fitting for a night spent next to a crackling fire. With a 5.4% ABV, it is best pair this dark wheat with seafood and a fresh salad to complement the malty finish.

Winter Seasonal Beer - Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Winter Lager | Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams is no rookie when it comes to crafting up a good brew, and their Winter Lager exemplifies that. Deep ruby in color, rich and full bodied, this spiced wheat bock encompasses the tastes of the season. Hints of citrus compliment spices of cinnamon and ginger.  At a 5.6% ABV, this seasonal brew makes for easy sipping.

Accumulation White IPA | New Belgium

Darker brews are the norm during the holiday season, but New Belgium’s brewers took a slightly different route. Tapping into their rebellious side, they crafted up a crisp and hoppy brew to keep you toasty during the frosty evenings. This big and bitter IPA leaves a smooth finish with a 6.2% ABV.

Winter Cheers | Victory Brewing Company

Fill your home with warmth and cheer this winter by enjoying a wheat ale created specifically for the season. This ale features robust fruity notes of banana and citrus and warming clove spices. It’s light in body with a 6.7% ABV, perfect for pairing with a scrumptious charcuterie board.

Winter Seasonal Beer - Sierra Nevada Celebration

Celebration IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

IPA’s are scarce in the realm of seasonal brews, so when you get the chance, we recommend you try it out. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration is hop-forward with intense citrus and pine aromas and a 6.8% ABV. It’s bold, seasonal flavors perfectly complement a rich holiday meal.

Winter Seasonal Beers - Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale

Christmas Ale | Anchor Brewing

Anchor Brewing is legendary in this domain, paving the way as the first to release a holiday beer after Prohibition. Since 1975, they have been stirring up their coveted recipe and holding true to their longstanding tradition of Christmas tree labels. Each year Anchor’s Illustrator, Jim Stitt, hand draws a different tree on the label, representing distinctive countries and their traditions.

These traditions go deeper than surface level. Tap open this brew to reveal hints of cocoa and roasted malts with aromas of pine. At a 6.9% ABV this dark ale pairs deliciously with roasted turkey and braised veggies. Check out our behind the scenes interview with Anchor Brewing’s Brewmaster, Scott Ungerman, here.

Winter Seasonal Beers - Andersonal Valley Brewing Company Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Warm up these chilly nights with this twist on a classic style winter warmer. Boasting rich and full flavors of toffee, seasonal spices and caramel, leaving a smooth and creamy finish. At a 6.9% ABV, Anderson Valley suggests pairing this sumptuous taster with candied yams, baked ham or pumpkin pie (surprise your senses by pairing it with this RumChata pumpkin slice).

Christmas Ale | Bell’s Brewery

This traditional Scotch ale is ideal for any festive occasion. Pour a glass of this rich and malty brew and enjoy the deep caramel notes and a warm finish. At a 7.5% ABV, this hardy brew pairs perfectly with savory dishes like roasted light meats and tender veggies. 

Santa’s Reserve Ale | Rogue

Rogue is dedicated to those on the naughty list and brewed up a unique holiday ale just for them. This Belgian dark ale packs a punch of boysenberry and tangerine notes at a 7.9% ABV. Enjoy it with a sweet treat or enjoy it as a night cap. 

Winter Seasonal Beers - 2XMAS Souther Tier Brewing Company 2XMas Ale | Southern Tier Brewing Company 

Paying tribute to their Nordic ties, Southern Tier has brewed up a holiday beer inspired by a “Glögg” party. This tradition brings friends and families (in this case Brewmasters) together to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas. Toasting to a spiced double ale filled with figs, orange peels, cinnamon and ginger root at an 8.0% ABV.

Winter Seasonal Beers - St. Bernardus Christmas Ale Christmas Ale | St. Bernardus 

Interested in a powerful, full-bodied beer? This Belgium quadrupel is sure to make a statement with a 10% ABV. Similar to St. Bernardus Abt. 12, Christmas Ale holds the aromas of St. Bernardus’ signature yeast strain. This dark pour offers spicy and refreshingly seasonal flavors such as mint, molasses and licorice. Pair it with cookies and leave some out for Santa – we hear he’s a fan.

Texas Cold Front | Shiner

Cold fronts don’t come often in Florida, but when they do, it’s important to be prepared. Stock up with Shiner’s Texas Cold Front variety pack, including:

  1. Frost Dortmender Style, 5.0% ABV, a crisp pale lager with a light flurry of malty sweetness and hoppy notes.
  2. Morello Dark Cherry, 7.0% ABV, carries succulent cheery notes putting a twist on its traditional black lager characteristics.
  3. Candied Pecan Porter, 6% ABV, this robust dark beer holds hints of roasted pecans with a perfectly nutty finish.


Find more season wine, beer and spirits for your holiday entertaining here.