By Diana Carlton
Winter brings a number of wonderful holiday occasions, from cookie-decorating extravaganzas to sit-down dinners with family and friends. Whether you’re hosting the hottest holiday shindig or just looking for something tasty to bring to your in-laws’ holiday feast, here are some of the best beers to accompany special seasonal meals.
If you’re a fan of classy imported beers, a great one to try is Avec les Bon Voeux from Brasserie Dupont in Belgium. A delightful saison-style ale, it has a peachy fruitiness and a hoppy base that manages to be spicy rather than bitter. This beer used to be a new year’s gift from the brewery to its most distinguished customers, and it’s only recently that this special holiday beer has been available to the public. Pair it with a roast duck or goose for a main course, or with a dense chocolate or spice cake for dessert.
If you really want to impress someone, your best choice is a bottle of Scaldis Prestige. This beauty from Belgium is triple-fermented, with the final fermentation happening in oak casks previously used for the finest burgundy wine. A multifaceted ale, its amber tone holds notes of caramel and cherries with a hint of spice. It would go well with grilled meat and game dishes, but would also be the perfect accompaniment to a rich baked brie. Sold in a wine-style bottle that runs about $40, this beer isn’t cheap. But as one of the few beers with a consistent 100 rating on RateBeer.com, it’s well worth the expense.
If your tastes run to the less expensive and closer to home, never fear. A number of US-based breweries create delicious libations for the holiday season, including the deliciously tongue-in cheek He’Brew Jewbelation Chanukah beer by the Shmaltz Brewing Co. in New York. This year’s “sweet 16” edition includes 16 malts, 16 hops, and a whopping 16% alcohol concentration. Dark, with flavors of chocolate, toffee, and figs, this is a definite sipping beer that would be great served with some dark chocolate truffles for a simple and elegant dessert.
Another good US-based option is Tröegs Mad Elf beer, made in Pennsylvania. A nice, festive, ruby red, this beer has notes of sugar and candied fruit—unsurprising, since one of the secret magic ingredients is cherries. Its relatively high alcohol by volume (11%) means that it will stand up well to rich holiday foods. Try pairing this beer with a honey-glazed ham, or with a roast turkey or goose.
Finally, you’ll want to have a good spiced beer on hand to go with your holiday pies and fruitcakes. For this, look no further than the Winter Solstice seasonal ale by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Full of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla goodness, this beer is the ideal accompaniment to pumpkin and pecan pie but will easily go with main dishes as well.
Infused with all the warmth of the holiday season, these ales are sure to please everyone on your holiday guest list. Pull up a chair and a plateful of goodies, pour yourself a glass, and enjoy!
Diana Carlton is a writer for Micro Matic, a world leader in draft beer dispensing equipment. With educational initiatives like the Micro Matic Dispense Institute, Micro Matic is committed to supporting the highest standards in draft beer technology. Check out the Micro Matic website for tips on everything from kegerators to commercial beer equipment and custom installations for bars and restaurants.