The holidays are filled with “I need a beer” moments. Like when your Mom fills your toddler with cookies, winds her up and sets her off on that new steel drum set that she just opened. So from the perfect turkey beer, to great ales for gifting, here are my Top 5 Tinsel Brews:
First Beer of Christmas:
Great for Tuning Out Passive-Aggressive Relatives
In order to do this, you have to drink steadily, all day long and only enough to maintain the blissful buzz without the dranger. Choose Black Oak’s Nutcracker Porter—it’s a holiday tipple I look forward to drinking all year. The chocolate-forward, porter has a hazelnut backbone and just a touch of cinnamon for a faint heat at the finish. It’s creamy, silky body is what puts it over the top—it’s just so goddamn tasty that you’ll be forced to stop and savour it.
$7.95/650 ml bottle, LCBO
Second Beer of Christmas
Gift for the Locavore Beer Lover
Every year, Beau’s fans vote on their favourite one-offs and special brews that the family-run, all organic outfit produced that year. The top four ales get put into a Best of Beau’s 2014 Mixed Pack, and it makes the perfect holiday gift pack. One thing I hate about holiday beer gift packs are the glasses. Just give me MORE beer please! I have glasses. This one is all beer, all the time.
$24/4 x 600 ml bottles, LCBO
Third Beer of Christmas
Gift for the Adventurous Palate / Wild Wine Lover
I don’t know why I’m even sharing this hot tip, except that I love it when people try a Flemish Red. Rodenbach Vintage 2012 is among my favourite beers in the world, and this year, the LCBO is bringing some in just for the holidays. ( I plan to buy it all, if it ever arrives on the shelves).
Warning: this is a sour ale—and it’s got confronting sour cherry, vinegar flavour, if you haven’t tried one before. Why do I love it so? Michael Jackson (the legendary beer writer, not the white-gloved legend) describes Flemish Reds like Rodenbach as the Burgundies of Belgium, and that just about sums it up. This one has a wine-like beginning and a balsamic vinegar like tang thanks to the house strain of yeast, which was found to contain at least 25 different types of microflora and bacteria (talk about probiotic!). They’re great beers for cellaring too.
Fourth Beer of Christmas:
The Turkey Staple
If you can’t get up a straight-up lambic (and you can’t buy this in Ontario at least), I like my turkey with Goose Island‘s Sofie. Serve it in white wine glasses and see how it’s champagne like carbonation scrubs the fatty gravy and stuffing from your tongue. It’s earthy, citrus notes will sparkle alongside traditional holiday dinners and in its corked bottle, it looks right at home with your festive table settings.
$9.95/765 ml bottle, LCBO
Fifth Beer of Christmas:
The Pudding Beer
I love cracking an Old English Ale with rich desserts, or a cheese plate to cap off the meal and amp up the post-holiday bloat. Amsterdam Brewery’s Vicar’s Vice is great for this kind of gluttony: aromas of caramel, booze, dark fruit and light tobacco start this puppy off followed by a sip that fills your mouth with dried cherries, toffee and dates, and a nutty finish. Luscious and jammy, it’s like Christmas pud in a glass.
$8.95/650 ml bottle, LCBO