Christmas and Hanukkah have come and gone. The nights are getting bitter cold and it is time to curl up next to the fire with a good beer. What better style is there to leave you all roasty and snug than a Winter Warmer? These are high malt, low hop beers with elevated ABVs to help raise your temperature and fill your tummy. Some of them are moderately to heavily spiced to take the place of hops called Wassails. Spices used include allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. They are beers that invoke the holiday tastes and smells. Traditional Wassails include Madeira or brandy and apple cider. These are good party cocktails if you do not like eggnog and want something fruity and festive. They can be warmed up to your liking for an instant holiday sipper. Some examples of Winter Warmer beers you can find in select ABCs include Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig ale found in the Winter Favorites variety pack, also, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice, Harpoon Winter Warmer, Redhook Winterhook, Full Sail Wassail, SweetWater Festive ale, Shipyard Prelude Special Ale and Anchor Christmas ale. A cool thing about Anchor’s Christmas ale is that the recipe changes each year and so does the tree on the package.
Since the Viking ages, Norwegian farmers brew Jueol, or strong dark Christmas beer to share with their neighbors. Nogne O Brewery of Norway has their Christmas beer, Vidunderlig Jul. Winter warmers can be a nice treat. They are great to sip on with loved ones around a roaring fire and fill the air with a smells of Christmas.
Adam Shugan, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits beer consultant – Gainesville
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