Having trouble finding that perfect beer to bring to holiday gatherings? Fear not, many of the local liquor stores are now carrying a wide variety of brews to choose from. Here are my picks for the season:
Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon has a festive red hue and the flavors are very well balanced between bitter and sweet and a subtle spice. This beer is definitely a winter warmer and is sure to please those looking to stray from the norm. You can find Jubelale at Chicago Lake Liquors for $8.99 a six pack.
Another option is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. This amber colored, hop forward, fresh hopped offering is a hop lover’s delight—made with Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial hops. Strong pine and citrus flavors come through due to the copious amount of hops used to make this beer. Sierra Nevada has been brewing this 5-time award-winning ale to celebrate the holiday season since 1981. You can find it at The Four Firkins or at Chicago Lake for $7.99 a six pack. Chicago Lake even sells a 12 pack for the everyday low price of $10.99.
Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale was available at The Four Firkins for $10.99 a six pack but it sold out quickly and is no longer available. If you can find it, you are in for a real treat. It is basically an apology beer for the fans of Brown Shugga Ale, which is their perennial holiday offering. Lagunitas ran out of brewing capacity this year so they decided to concoct a holiday treat from 4 different grains and plenty of hops. This ale is packed with citrus and pine flavors and balanced slightly by malt and alcohol flavors. What really stands out about this beer is the intense grapefruit smell when you first pop the cap off.
Some other holiday beers available around the twin cities are:
Goose Island Christmas Ale
Snow Day and Framboise from New Belgium
Bells Christmas Ale
Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Anchor Steam Christmas Ale
Alaskan Winter Ale
Bells Winter Ale
Summit Winter Ale
Remember that your local brewpubs have also been working hard to create their take on holiday beers such as Town Hall’s Festivus, Raspberry Porter, and Wee Heavy. Great Water’s Brewing is selling Yuletide and Belgian Bruin. Barley John’s is offering a Northern English Brown Ale, as well as an Imperial Stout, and a Smoked Porter. The Herkimer Pub is offering a Dopplebock as their seasonal.
Those of you with decision making issues may want to consider creating your own mixed 6 pack at a place such as The Four Firkins. Since they are a beer-dedicated store, their employees are the best in the business at recommending certain beers based on your preferences and their advice does not include that pretentious ego sometimes associated with beer snobs.
For those on a budget (especially after the shopping season) you may want to hit up Cellars in the Eastern suburbs or Chicago Lake Liquors if you are in Minneapolis. Both of these establishments offer great prices on beer and a pretty good selection. You really can’t beat the everyday 12 pack prices on Sierra Nevada and Summit at Chicago Lake ($10.99 each).
Happy Holidays and remember that beer was meant to shared.