Holiday cheer makes its way to the beer aisle in the form of cherished seasonals and festive one-offs, perfect for enjoying and sharing at holiday gatherings and ugly sweater parties. Among the many tasty holiday beer options are these three beers of the month.
Anchor Christmas Ale 2015
Anchor Brewing Company — San Francisco, California
Anchor’s annual Christmas Ale is a much anticipated holiday tradition that dates back to 1975. The super-secret recipe is tweaked every year, and a different tree adorns the bottle label of each edition. While some editions have been ho-hum but drinkable winter warmers with the expected dose of holiday spices, others have been spicy hop bombs or intensely arboreal, as if Anchor has liquefied and bottled Christmas trees. Some versions age better than others, but it is common for fans of the series to keep a bottle or two of each release to compare with past and future editions.
August Schell Brewing Company — New Ulm, Minnesota
Schell has its own traditional winter seasonal, Snowstorm. But Schell takes its tradition to the next level: Each edition of Snowstorm is a completely different style. Why? Because, as Schell’s website says, every Midwesterner knows “no two Snowstorms are ever alike.” Past versions have included a wee heavy Scotch ale, weizenbock and Belgian dark ale. The 2015 edition is a Wallonian-style brown ale that features hints of nut, biscuit and stone fruit.
Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass The Beer
Shmaltz Brewing Company — Clifton Park, New York
Released for the first time last year, Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass The Beer is a tasty newcomer to the holiday beer scene. It boasts eight different types of malts, eight different types of hops and weighs in at a hefty 8 percent ABV. Hanukkah, Chanukah features flavors of toasted malt, dark fruit, earthy hops and licorice, to name a few notable flavors. It will, as the sales sheet promises, “bring some light to the winter darkness,” and, “pair perfectly with latkes and the battle royale of dreidels.”
Bonus recommendations: Prairie Christmas Bomb, which is a version of Prairie Aristan Ales’ aged imperial stout, spiced with cinnamon bark. John’s Grocery also has a few bottles of Mikkeller’s Christmas porter, From/To, from years past. It was amazing when fresh, and has hopefully aged well.
This article originally appeared in Little Village issue 189.