We all know that the Christmas season is upon us when you hear the ringing bells of the Salvation Army at your local storefront, your neighbor’s house adorned in lights, and candy canes on the shelves shortly after the Halloween season.
But the best sign that the holiday is near is the wide assortment of Christmas beers available. A stronger, sometimes darker, spiced style that often has a richer body and warm finish, which is perfect for the cold winter season ahead of us.
Throughout our history, beer of a marginally higher alcohol content and richness has been enjoyed during the winter holidays, when friends and family alike get together to enjoy the season.
Many breweries produce unique seasonal offerings that may be darker, stronger, spiced, or have more character than the average craft beers.
Many brews of this style smell of Christmas cookies, gingerbread, , spruce, or mulling spices, any combination of aromatics that suggests the holiday season. The overall aroma should be balanced and harmonious, and is often fairly complex and inviting.
The special ingredients used, such as allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger should complement the beer and not overwhelm it.
As mentioned above, spices associated with the holiday season are typical in this style. Rich, malty and/or sweet malt-based flavors are common, and may also include caramel, toasted, nutty, or chocolate flavors.
Now that you are familiar with what common Christmas ales should be, let me share one of my favorites that’s slightly untraditional. Every year, I look forward to sharing a Christmas beer brewed by Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company, one of my favorite breweries. It's located nearby in Akron, OH.
Hoppin’ Frog’s Frosted Frog is a unique example of the Christmas-ale style. Considered a winter warmer, this beer comes in at a modest 8.6-percent alcohol by volume and is offered in 22-ounce bottles.
This beer certainly smells like Christmas! Aromas of spiced fruitcake, (I personally get a huge amount of cinnamon!), clove, and nutmeg make for a big appropriate holiday aroma.
I hope that this holiday season treats you well and I encourage you to step out of your beer comfort zone and give this unique style a try! A beery Christmas to all and to all a good night!