When you think of holiday beers, you probably think of brews that include the same spices that are used in mulled wines and hot ciders (allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon). While the best brewers use a light hand and produce balanced and pleasing winter warmers, there are more than a few spice bombs out there.
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The best holiday beers on the market encompass a grab bag of styles ranging from pungent India Pale Ales to bold malty lagers to Belgian-inspired fruit beer. We also found a couple of righteously spicy takes that strike the right balance between beer and spice. Here are the best holiday ales out this year.
Brewer: Sierra Nevada Brewing
Style: American IPA
If you're looking for a beer that will taste great while sitting by a Christmas tree, it's hard to go wrong with the pine forest hop bouquet offered by a Sierra Nevada's Celebration. First released in 1981, Celebration was one of the earliest examples of the style to be brewed by an American craft brewery.
While most breweries use pelletized hops that have been crushed in a hammer mill, Sierra Nevada uses only whole-flower hops across their entire lineup of beers. They insist that the whole flowers result in greater aroma than pellets. While other brewers might scoff at the practice, you'd be hard-pressed to find many that look down their noses at Celebration, which uses only the freshest dried hops from that year's harvest. The result is a pungently hoppy IPA that helped spark a revolution in IPAs.