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Falalala....it's Christmas Beer time again.

Owtahear Nov 12, 2012 06:16 AM

Oktoberfest has come and passed again. I realize, as much as I love this time of year, I am not a Marzen fan for the most part. Spaten and HB still has the best Oktoberfest. The Pumpkin Ales are now past (Southern Tier's Pumkin is truly king here).....and now it is time for the Christmas Beers.

My favorite, and it results in a yearly pilgrammage to their brewery is the Great Lakes Christmas Ale (I live in Pittsburgh so not too far) and just found it a almost gasping $65/case at beer distributor locally. But it is my favorite and likely will buy 2-3 cases for gifts and parties between now and Christmas.

I also have gotten some Goose Island's Christmas Ale. Really good. Also have tried a 6 pack of Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice Ale. Also good. (I like this style over Marzen, not saying better but a personal preference).

What are your favorite Holiday specific beers? Also, like Sierra's Celebration Ale. But want to try some different ones this year so looking for your recommendations?

If you haven't, you must try the Great Lakes Christmas Ale. It is the best of the best. IMO of course.

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    Whisper RE: Owtahear Nov 12, 2012 07:04 AM

    Stille Nacht by De Dolle is my favorite. I also like N'Ice Chouffe, Gouden Carolus Christmas, Delirium Noel and St Bernardus Christmas too.

    1. s
      Shaggy RE: Owtahear Nov 12, 2012 11:08 AM

      I love the Anchor Steam Christmas Ales, and I also like the Winter Solstice. I'm also partial to Harpoon's Winter Warmer, although I haven't had it in a few years.
      I tend to buy more porters, stouts and barleywines around Christmas, so will likely pick up some Bell's beers, (Porter, Kalamazoo and Expedition Stout), and some larger format beers from Three Floyd's Alpha Klaus or Behemoth Barleywine.
      Oddly, I didn't care for the Goose Island Christmas Ale. The one I had lacked body, and tasted more like a harvest ale to me. I'll have to try it again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shaggy
        swamp RE: Shaggy Nov 13, 2012 01:27 PM

        I am anxious to try Karbach's Yule shoot Your Eye Out but have not made it to Spec's to pick some up. They describe it as a generously spiced black ale.

      2. l
        LStaff RE: Owtahear Nov 12, 2012 12:53 PM

        Yesterday was the official start to Celebration season for me. I just prefer hops as a spice so I have no need/desire for any others.

        7 Replies
        1. re: LStaff
          niquejim RE: LStaff Nov 12, 2012 01:57 PM

          Couldn't have said it better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. re: LStaff
            Shaggy RE: LStaff Nov 13, 2012 10:46 AM

            Not knocking it, but in your opinion, is Celebration really better than most IPA's? I keep hearing about how people wait for this beer to come out, and I have to be honest, I would never buy it over many other well made IPA's. Just curious, I feel like I'm missing something.

            1. re: Shaggy
              chuckl RE: Shaggy Nov 13, 2012 12:24 PM

              It's pretty good if you like Sierra Nevada's IPAs in general. It's a lot like Torpedo. They don't add any extra spices from what I can detect. In my opinion Big Foot is generally more interesting and it varies from year to year.

              1. re: Shaggy
                niquejim RE: Shaggy Nov 15, 2012 06:22 PM

                How many better IPA's were there 31 years ago when this first came out, or better yet how many did this inspire

                1. re: niquejim
                  Shaggy RE: niquejim Nov 16, 2012 09:44 AM

                  Absolutely, it's an important beer, and a good beer. Like I said, it's just not a beer that I look forward to like a lot of people, and I wonder if I'm missing something.

                  1. re: Shaggy
                    niquejim RE: Shaggy Nov 16, 2012 06:38 PM

                    Sometimes nostalgia is as, or more important than being new and flashy. The only thing you are probably missing is the memories

                2. re: Shaggy
                  ratgirlagogo RE: Shaggy Dec 8, 2012 01:43 PM

                  I am one of those people who waits all year for it and actually I have been kind of wondering whether it is just a psychological thing, so I've been trying to kind of compare it to some of the other IPAs I have at home. So far I still like it better than Goose Island and oddly much better than Torpedo, which seems kind of harsh in comparison. I also notice that the Ithaca Flower Power and all the Southern Tiers are way hoppier, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I would say I might like the Lagunitas almost the same as Celebration.

                  I still feel like Celebration is the winner. But maybe it is just too big a part of my own Christmas tradition for me to feel differently.

              2. a
                antennastoheaven RE: Owtahear Nov 13, 2012 11:37 AM

                Scaldis Noel, Noel de Silenrieux, and Samichlaus are my favorites. Dig the St Bernardus Xmas as well.

                1. c
                  chuckl RE: Owtahear Nov 13, 2012 12:26 PM

                  Has anyone tried hop whiskey yet?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: chuckl
                    Shaggy RE: chuckl Nov 13, 2012 07:23 PM

                    That's a thing? Two things that I love.

                    1. re: Shaggy
                      chuckl RE: Shaggy Nov 13, 2012 09:45 PM

                      I've had it. It's really good. charbay also makes one out of Black Bear Stout.

                      1. re: chuckl
                        eethan RE: chuckl Nov 16, 2012 07:43 AM

                        Did you tried the white or aged one? (Or both?)

                        1. re: eethan
                          chuckl RE: eethan Nov 18, 2012 06:15 PM

                          I tried both and preferred the barrel aged. I haven't tried the S from big bear stout yet

                          1. re: chuckl
                            eethan RE: chuckl Nov 22, 2012 07:05 AM

                            Did you notice any difference in the hop characteristic? I was wondering if it would suffer from the ageing, but it sounds like it's still there?

                            1. re: eethan
                              chuckl RE: eethan Nov 23, 2012 10:41 AM

                              Due to the distlling process, I wouldnt expect the hop flavors to fade. Marko, the distiller, told me he thinks the flavor improves in the bottle over time, though I can't verify that personally.

                              1. re: chuckl
                                eethan RE: chuckl Nov 27, 2012 09:34 AM

                                Thanks -- I had a try of the white whiskey, and it is good. It's not quite what I expected. I (and my wife) both noted its origins as IPA are very clear, but I found a strong flavour of fermentation that I didn't expect, sort of like a brandy (which, on reflection is not too surprising). In the end, it's quite complex and interesting. I'm not sure I'd want to pay full price for it, though.

                  2. e
                    eepi RE: Owtahear Nov 15, 2012 01:55 PM

                    I'm waiting for my local shop to get this year's Anchor Steam. Eagerly awaiting it! It's different every year so I don't know what to expect, exactly. It's a yearly tradition - the one seasonal beer about which I truly care.

                    I haven't seen the Great Lakes here yet but will keep an eye out for it.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: eepi
                      chuckl RE: eepi Nov 15, 2012 05:05 PM

                      I believe it's called Anchor Christmas. Anchor Steam is the style of one of their beers.

                      1. re: chuckl
                        JessKidden RE: chuckl Nov 17, 2012 06:28 AM

                        Anchor has, at various times, referred to their seasonal beer as "Our Special Ale" and "Christmas Ale" and, for the TTB label approval, calls it "Merry Christmas".

                        They also used the "Anchor Steam" terminology a few years back on the Christmas Ale's table tent design - http://i.imgur.com/xxR5y.jpg

                      2. re: eepi
                        MGZ RE: eepi Nov 17, 2012 07:33 AM

                        This thread reminded me of how Anchor's Christmas offering has been a part of my Holiday season every year since I had my first in 1987. Not much else about Christmas is interesting to me at this point, and after the past three weeks around here, it's weird to be openly "cheery" about anything. Nonetheless, I sincerely look forward to the annual tasting of that first six pack.

                        1. re: MGZ
                          Tripeler RE: MGZ Nov 18, 2012 02:54 AM

                          What I have found with Anchor's Christmas beer is that on some years it is ready to drink, but on other years it requires at least one or two years' aging, preferably in the refrigerator. It really depends on how strong the spices are.

                      3. o
                        Owtahear RE: Owtahear Nov 16, 2012 10:00 AM

                        Okay so far I have collected for the holidays:
                        Great Lakes Christmas Ale (IMO the best or at least my fav)
                        Goose Island
                        Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

                        Southern Tier Christmas Ale (since I love their Pumkin Ale and others)
                        And some large bottles of:
                        Delirum Noel
                        Goulden Carolus Christmas
                        Cosendork Christmas Ale
                        Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve
                        Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (awesome)
                        Petrus Winter Beer

                        So far.......

                        1. r
                          Rick RE: Owtahear Nov 16, 2012 10:02 AM

                          Anderson Valley Winter Solstice is our favorite, never tried the Great Lakes Christmas Ale and will have to try to find some.

                          1. j
                            jpc8015 RE: Owtahear Nov 26, 2012 12:44 AM

                            Not really a Christmas beer but a great winter seasonal...Pyramid Snowcap. Richer than a porter but different than a stout.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jpc8015
                              Jim Dorsch RE: jpc8015 Nov 26, 2012 03:16 AM

                              That's along the lines of an old ale. A great one that is now gone was Wild Goose Snow Goose out of MD. Also, year-round these days is Geary's Hampshire Special from Maine.

                              1. re: Jim Dorsch
                                jpc8015 RE: Jim Dorsch Nov 26, 2012 05:14 AM

                                Good to know. Old ale is not a style that I have experienced much of. Knowing that I enjoy Snowcap I will search out some old ales to try...or I may just need to brew one myself.

                                1. re: jpc8015
                                  The Professor RE: jpc8015 Dec 11, 2012 10:36 AM

                                  You won't find very many _true_ 'old ales' out there. There are strong beers that call themselves that, but 'Old Ale' traditionally is ale that has been vatted (aged) for a long period of time...like year or more.

                                  These days the trend is to rush production and drink many beers "young" (even stronger beers that in the past would be put aside to age). But a well made, long aged beer is truly a thing of beauty.

                                  Some breweries are beginning to revive the traditional practice of long aging. Properly done, the effect on the brew is profound (and delicious).

                                  1. re: The Professor
                                    jpc8015 RE: The Professor Dec 29, 2012 04:21 PM

                                    I guess I will just have to brew one myself and see how it goes.

                            2. GraydonCarter RE: Owtahear Nov 26, 2012 08:53 PM

                              Thanks guys. I picked up a six pack of Sam Adams White Christmas and I really love the spiciness.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: GraydonCarter
                                Shaggy RE: GraydonCarter Nov 27, 2012 11:24 AM

                                I like that as well. I tried the new variety pack over the weekend, and wasn't impressed with the Holiday Porter or Chocolate Bock, and I've never enjoyed the Old Fezziwig, but the Winters are good. I am a big fan of Sam Adams, but these didn't hit the mark in my opinion.

                                1. re: Shaggy
                                  ratgirlagogo RE: Shaggy Dec 8, 2012 01:45 PM

                                  Mr. Rat also tried the variety pack and his clear pick was the White Christmas also. That's the one he went out and bought a whole six-pack of.

                              2. c
                                chuckl RE: Owtahear Dec 9, 2012 10:57 AM

                                I just tried this years Santas Little Helper Russian Imperial Stout from Port Brewing on draft and its very good, with lots of chocolate and coffee notes. I can imagine this being delicious with chocolates and dessert or with vanilla ice cream as a beer float.

                                1. n
                                  newJJD RE: Owtahear Dec 14, 2012 12:48 AM

                                  I really liked Troegs Mad Elf, thought it's been a few years since I was anywhere near PA at this time of year. Anyone had it recently? Still good?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: newJJD
                                    cwdonald RE: newJJD Dec 17, 2012 10:53 AM

                                    Still as good as ever. I prefer it on draught as opposed to bottle.

                                  2. t
                                    TombstoneShadow RE: Owtahear Dec 30, 2012 01:30 PM

                                    Favorite (winter) holiday specific beers... I have to go with the richer winter beers and there's nothing better than a great stout or barleywine in the wintertime.

                                    Specific selection varies so much by what part of the country you're in...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                      Jim Dorsch RE: TombstoneShadow Dec 30, 2012 06:41 PM

                                      Fortunately, most of us will see Sierra Nevada Bigfoot soon.

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