It’s November in my book that is the start of the holiday season. That also means holiday/Christmas/winter seasonal beers are already hitting the shelves. Here’s a quick list of some of the winter beers to look out for in Hawaii. This isn’t a comprehensive list, so be on the look out for any others.
Anchor Christmas Ale – The quintessential and probably one of the best known American holiday beers, Anchor Christmas Ale returns for its 39th year. Every year the recipe changes (and so does the tree on the label), so what the beer will taste like is sort of a surprise. We do know it is always a spiced ale, darker in color with a medium to full body.
Sierra Nevada Celebration – This is the beer I look forward to most every winter. Brewed since 1981, Celebration is a bright and citrusy IPA brewed with fresh hops (fresh, not wet, meaning the hops in this beer have been dried). I’ve been told you’ll be able to find Celebration in cases at Costco this year! Get it as soon as it arrives for best freshness.
Birra Le Baladin Nora Ale – (description by Bill Carl, Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone® at Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii) The tale of the Magi is one that we hear every Christmas. Bringing gifts from the ‘east’ consisting of myrrh, and Nora ale? Nora is designed from an ancient Egyptian recipe using Kamut grain, giving the beer a rich, rustic, nuttiness, ginger, and myrrh. A creamy mouthfeel with the light toasted flavor of ancient bread, and the slight spiced finish from the use of spices.
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome – (description by Bill Carl, Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone® at Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii) A light copper-amber color with a thin head and medium effervescence are key in this yearly offering. The recipe is altered year to year giving us more surprises. A good biscuit malt with hints of caramel are balanced by a heavy hand of English hops.
Deschutes Jubelale – (brewery description) A dark, malty celebration ale with layered flavors and beautifully balanced hopping. Jubelale pours deep garnet in color, medium bodied, with notes of chicory, earth, spice and fruit. To beer lovers, it’s like Yule fire and family.
Samuel Adams Fat Jack – (brewery description) This rich and luscious brew indulges in flavor with over 28 lbs. of pumpkin per barrel, for a full bodied sweetness and deep russet color. Classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice ignite a warmth and spark that’s deepened by an undercurrent of roasty smoked malts. The result is a delectable brew full of enveloping layers of flavor and spice.
Samuel Adams Winter Lager – Most winter seasonals tend to be big, dark and heavy, which fit the weather in most of the country. The great thing about Winter Lager is it provides those awesome malty and spicy notes, but in a lighter bodied, lower alcohol lager. Perfect for those evenings you want to have a few.
Harvey’s Christmas Ale – (description by Bill Carl, Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone® at Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii) Harvey’s Brewery is the largest independent brewery in Sussex. For almost 30 years Harvey’s has been brewing their ‘stock ale’, Christmas Ale. Favoring the specifications of an English Stock Ale or English Barleywine, Christmas Ale has a bit of a raisinish, wine like character, that is balanced by the English Fuggle and Golding hops that are grown a mere 35 miles from the brewery. Like most Stock Ales this is a beer that can lay down and get better and better with age.
Rogue Santa’s Reserve – A big, bold and double dry-hopped red ale. A great balance of big hoppy flavors with a strong malt backbone. Side note, barley and hop grown on the Rogue farms are used in this beer.
Kona Pipeline Porter – (brewery description) Pipeline Porter is smooth and dark with a distinctive roasty aroma and earthy complexity from its diverse blends of premium malted barley. This celebration of malt unites with freshly roasted 100% Kona coffee grown at Cornwell Estate on Hawaii’s Big Island, lending a unique roasted aroma and flavor. A delicate blend of hops rounds out this palate-pleasing brew.
Widmer Brothers Brrr Seasonal Ale – Another bold and hoppy red ale, Widmer’s winter seasonal, Brrr, has some hints of caramel and darker roasted malt. I love the color of this beer and the bright citrusy hop aroma. At 7.2% abv, it’s a great sipper with just enough bite.
Smisje t’Smisje Kerst – (description by Bill Carl, Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone® at Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii) Brewed in Oudenaarde, Belgium, in the smallest craft brewery in the country by a former bee keeper. Kerst is short for Christmas (Kerstmaas) in Dutch. Kerst is a strong Dark Belgian style brewed with coriander, alligator pepper and has flavors of dark fruit, honey, and chocolate. Estery aromas are present from the high fermentation and a bit of sourness that we have come to enjoy from the East Flanders beers. A hint of alcohol warmness will finish the beer off nicely for those crisp cool Hawaii winter nights!
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux – (description by Bill Carl, Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone® at Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii) La Rulles is a small village in the Southernmost region of Belgium, La Gaume (Luxembourg). The small brewery produces their Cuvee ‘Meilleurs Voeux’ (meaning “best wishes”) using American west coast hops and yeast from the famed Orval Trappist brewery. This is a Belgian strong ale that features roasty malts that are balanced with the flavors of American hops. A very unique and delicious Holiday Beer!