For 2019, with the full range of American craft beers within reach, I determined to taste a representative lineup of the Christmas and other seasonal ales and stouts put forth on the East Coast. Unlike the disappointment of pumpkin ales, the festive holiday brews by and large satisfied and delighted me.
My favorite amongst them? A tough call. Bell’s puts on a Christmas Scotch Ale that provides a great accompaniment to a host of treats–a worthy one, to be sure. I also really savored Dogfish Head’s Suddenly Comfy–a great pairing with mince pies hot out of the over. Flying Dog’s K-9 Warmer was a surprise smash–as was the not-local-but-still-lovely Shiner Bock Cheer Ale–cherry and cheery! The Fugly Sweater from Ithaca Brewery was a little heavy on the cloves, but otherwise just fine.
I’ll go my own direction and call out two Tröegs brews for a tie for first. The Blizzard of Hops recalls passionfruit and grapefruit peel, with a piney back fit to drink in front of a fresh Douglas fir. And to top them off, the classic Mad Elf 2019, a Belgian ale brewed with honey and cherries and spicy Belgian yeasts. Its light honeyed aroma sang to me, and came through with a deeply roasted cherry flavor shot through with nutmeg. Perfect–and at 11% abv, you need only one to savor by the fireside.