The holidays are upon us and with them come some great beers! Seasonal beers, and more specifically holiday beers, come around but once a year (hence the seasonal tag!) They represent an intense creativity and passion that accompanies a love for craft beer and enjoyment of the seasons.
Seasonal beers try to focus on ingredients that accompany the season and accentuate the traditional flavors of the faire being served. Also, seasonal beers are appreciated as a unique taste of your favorite times of year, right there in the pint glass! Being that we are in the holiday season, why not focus on a few of my favorites.
Airdale Brewing Company’s Homecoming Spiced Holiday Porter is first on my list. Brewed as a traditional brown porter, this beer has a smooth chocolate flavor melded with its subtle roasted finish. Homecoming is enhanced with the addition of some well-loved holiday spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Each spice is subtly detected and brilliantly blended to give this beer an espresso flavor, perfect for many holiday dishes. Thanksgiving dinner, honey glazed ham, sweet sausage, and anything earthy or with chocolate will pair nicely with Homecoming. And because Homecoming is a light bodied beer, it can be enjoyed comfortably with our traditionally heavy holiday meals.
Wolaver’s Organic Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale is a fine beer for the holidays. Many may be skeptical of pumpkin ale’s appeal, as most tend to be over spiced and dominate the palate. Not in this case, as Wolavers uses locally grown organic pumpkins and just a hint of spicing to give this beer a great malty flavor, medium bodied, and a smooth and subtle pumpkin flavor. Great with pot roast, roasted vegetables, and Brie, this one is a winner every time.
Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Ale is a classic beer for the fall season. This full-bodied beer is “wet hopped” or hopped using hops that are not dried out, but still a living plant. This technique, as noted by some brewers, imparts a very fresh hop flavor to beer. Harvest Ale is a great beer for those of us who enjoy a mouthful of hop flavor, but still finds its place at the holiday dinner table. Paired well with grilled chicken, salmon, curries, or artisan cheeses, Harvest Ale is a perennial favorite in my house.
Lastly, Eel River Brewing Company’s Climax Noel finishes out the bunch. An Imperial Red Ale, Climax Noel is a strong ale (about 8% alcohol), a reddish amber color, and provides a welcome warming feeling in a cold holiday setting. Hopped with New Zealand hops, this beer has a large hop aroma and flavor to match. Climax Noel is a perfect combination with glazed ham and sweet potatoes, or a gourmet pizza.
So who not spice up your holidays with a creative and unique beer made just for the season. I have mentioned just a tiny sampling of the hundreds of seasonal beers available. The great part about seasonal beers is you know your getting a fresh beer, made to compliment the flavors of the time, and you are experiencing true artisan brewing right in your pint!
You can read all about seasonal beers at:
“Seasonal Beer Throughout the Year” (www.seasonalbeerandfood.org)
Airdale Brewing Company: www.airdalebrewing.com
Wolaver’s Organic Ales: www.wolavers.com
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co: www.sierranevada.com
Eel River Brewing Co.: www.eelriverbrewing.com