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10 ho-ho-ho-holiday beers to drink this season

Holiday Beers For Your "Nice List"

The holidays come with a mixed bag for many of us. Ice storms, Black Friday Blowouts, and shopping lists that dominate our focus. 

On the other hand, there are ugly sweaters, office parties, celebrity-packed holiday movies, and best of all: holiday beer that just so happens to pair perfectly with a roaring fire. 

Here’s a list of great Winter Warmers to help you navigate whatever the holidays throw your way.

The Samuel Adams Holiday White Ale is pale, light and refreshing, while hitting you with notes of  holiday spirit (i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel). At 5.8% ABV, this beer is an excellent choice if you want to keep the holiday party going just a little longer.

A monkey may not be the typical holiday mascot, but Victory Brewing’s Merry Monkey is here to help you work through those mental gymnastics. This delightful Belgian-Style holiday ale will replace those visions of sugar plums with cranberry, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 10% ABV. By the time you finish it, you and your transformation into a cozy inner monkey will be complete.

A Doppelbock is perfect for the holidays. A Triplebock is even perfect-er. Brewed every year on December 6th and then aged for 10 months before bottling, Samichlaus is a very special treat for those on the nice list. At 14% ABV, this stuff is a great way to end your evening.

Every year Santa swings by Newport, Oregon presumably for fresh crab or to catch a few waves to fuel his jolly stoke. Either way he always leaves a treat for the rest of us. This year it’s a very special stout, at the bottom of which may be a Honey Mama’s chocolate bar made with dark cocoa, honey, sesame butter, cacao nibs and tangerine. You’ll have to drink one to find out.

If you want to stay cozy this holiday season, take a page from the book written by folks who know how to stay warm. Bell’s Brewing in Michigan based their Christmas Ale on a complex, malt forward, and strong Scotch Ale, also known as a Wee Heavy. It’s like a heavy sweater next to a peat fueled fire, only tastier.  Slàinte Mhath (Cheers in Scots Gaelic).

Despite the promise of a joyous and giving holiday spirit, we can still experience stress and overwhelm. Waiting in long lines, supermarket Christmas music, and the cookies. Piles and piles of cookies. 

Prairie Artisan Ales it all up with a beer that lives up to its namesake. Made with cacao nibs, chilies, spices, coffee and vanilla, this 13% ABV Imperial Stout will help you forget you’ve been seeing holiday decorations since August.

Harpoon Brewery’s Winter Warmer has kept us snuggling since 1988. This classic beer is made with caramel malts, cinnamon, nutmeg and subtle hops. Drinking this is like having an 80’s Christmas sweater warm you from the inside but better, because unlike big hair and parachute pants, it never goes out of style.

It’s seldom said that good things come in red packages. Think about it. Cherries, Apples, St. Nick, and Sierra Nevada’s Fresh Hop Celebration IPA. Combining fresh American hops and caramel malts is a gift that keeps on giving. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I intend to get on the “Nice List” by the time this beer becomes available.

No matter what you celebrate, Great Lakes’ non-denominational Christmas Ale will get you to your happy place straight away. This strong, malt forward ale adds honey, ginger, and cinnamon to put a little mistle in your toes and a jingle in your bells.

An annual favorite, Deschutes Brewing’s Jubelale is a festive winter ale that emphasizes spice, toffee and cocoa as much as it does cozy and complex malt and hops. Even better, the label is designed by a different Northwest Artist every year to inspire you to sip and reflect on what you are most grateful for.

Jeremy Storton is an Advanced Cicerone®, beer educator, content producer, and an award-winning beer writer and podcaster. He’s also a Freediving Instructor and not too shabby in a kitchen. You can find his work at:,, and among other places.

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