Christmas Beers

Submitted by DM on Mon, 19/12/2011 - 21:58


The few literary outlets that look beyond wine, wine & more wine for festive drinking recommendations are usually fixed on whatever 3 x 12 pack landed on the promotions desk shortly before publishing time. Or how about the joke named beers? They're mostly joke beers - its a handy guide that if the brewery can't be bothered to give the beer a half-decent name then a similar amount of effort probably went into making the beer.

For me, a great Christmas beer is a sipper - one you can savour through a film so you don't have to get up to go to the larder to get another & miss an important plot point. It should be complex, warming & satisfying. After Xmas lunch a can of Wife-Beater will just bloat you out.

Duchy Originals, Select Ale 6.2% - a warming, toffee-malty ale with a gentle bitterness & the interesting taste given by rye.

Harviestoun, Ola Dubh 8.0% - has a whiskey warmth, not too sweet, gentle toastiness & a full mouthfeel. If you need a present for the beer drinker in your life then the various versions of this are great. The special 40 edition (different numbers indicate the age of the whisky that was in the cask the beer was aged in) is a great 40th birthday present.

Ridgeway, Lump of Coal 8.0% - much alcohol warmth with a very drying aftertaste, burnt toast & malts give a savouring beer.

Bateman's Dark Lord 5.0% - like a strong mild, bordering on a strong bitter. It has roast maltiness in spades & a sweet dark fruitiness.

Ridgeway, Bad Elf 6% - OK, OK, not every Xmas theme beer is terrible. This classic-style IPA has a strong, earthy hop flavour, but not too bitter. A pale ale just to show that not all winter ales are as dark as the evenings.

Hobson's Postman's Knock 4.8% - not everyone wants a strong beer & (relative) sobriety is not something to throw away for any old bottle of ale. This former Champion Beer of Britain has plenty of chocolate maltiness, some bitterness & for the full bodiedness isn't sweet.

Branded Drinks, Coal Fired Porter 4.6% - an exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of beer; rich roasted aromas dominate with a smooth, malty but not sweet, chocolatey flavour.

Dark Star, Espresso 4.2% - not an old man's stout by a long chalk. A strong fresh-brewed coffee flavour - not the bitter French kind, more of a mellow Italian blend - which stands out above the roasted malts & toastiness. The best coffee stout there is.