So, for the past few weeks, we have been trying a lot of Winter Warmers and Christmas beers from various breweries (for research purposes, of course!) to determine which brews we would like to share with our loved ones.
Here are some of our favorites...
Anchor Christmas Ale 2009: We picked up a growler fill of this Winter Warmer beer made by Anchor Brewing in San Fransisco. It has a nice spice (cinnamon and eggnog) and pairs well with both dinner and dessert. It's a 'quaffable' Winter-style beer because of the low ABV (5%), compared to most winter beers, and the carbonation. We have some bottles of the 2008 left at home to compare with the 2009 down the road to see how this ages.
Corsendonk Christmas Ale: One of the best Belgian Christmas beers we've been able to find is this one from Corsendonk. We had this on tap (which is rare) at Resto, in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan. It seemed a little boozy at first, but as you keep drinking, the rich, deep fruit gets better and better with quite a long finish for a beer. The bottles are widely available, so definitely treat yourself to a bottle of Coresendonk Christmas Ale at home.
The Bruery's 2 Turtle Doves: We found this special Belgian Dark-style holiday treat from California's The Bruery on pin cask at Mug's Ale House in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) at Mug's annual Belgian-style beer event. It's definitely doesn't hold back at 12% as the alcohol is apparent on the nose. It was a little sweet but we enjoyed it as it opened up in the snifter glass. This high octane beer is brewed with cocoa nibs and pecans to give it a chocolate and nutty profile. We know we'll enjoy our bottles at home as well (about $13 to $15 for a 750mL bottle).
Unibroue (Quebec). This dark, malty and a touch sweet vintage beer is fermented on it's lees and is slightly carbonated (as evidenced by the cork enclosure). But it is an easy ale to enjoy much like the Anchor holiday brew. And the best part is its price - it's only about $5 for a 750mL bottle. Cheers to that!
If you are looking for a more readily available (and more affordable) alternative to the above, check out the 6-packs of the malty Winter Ale from Brooklyn Brewery and the Winter Lager from Samuel Adams. They are stronger than their respective brewery's regular offerings and should be under $10 a 6-pack.
Cheers and Happy Holidays!