Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s time for the Christmas holidays. Each year in good time before the holidays beers labeled as Christmas beer, Christmas ale etc. emerges at the shelves of liquor stores and grocery shops. It’s maybe hard to pick ones, especially if you want to pair them with your Christmas dinner. But don’t worry! We can help you to get some ideas. There are hundreds or thousands of beers you could pair with Christmas dish so these are just some guidelines to get you started. Here are the suggestions:
Aecht schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock: 6,5% ABV, Smoked beer
Ah, the all-time great Urbock!
Beautiful reddish-brown coloured and brilliantly clear beer with a huge light brown head. This is how the classic smoked beer should look like.
Strong and pleasant smokiness rises from the glass with some ham and woody notes… This brings up memories from childhood when we were spending time at the cottage in the middle of nowhere and sat next to a campfire till night…
Medium body with medium-high carbonation. Taste is also full of smokey and woody flavours with touch of maltiness and smoked ham. Just lovely 🙂
Food pairings: Ham and strong flavoured poultry if you have them in your Christmas dinner
2. Kulmbacher Mönchsof Bockbier: 6,9% ABV, Doppelbock
Brilliantly clear, copper red beer with very large off-white head that seems to last forever. Really hard to image better look for a Bock.
Nose has sweet and bready maltiness with noble hop aromas and minor toasty undertones as well. Clean scent.
Mouthfeel is medium-full with noticeable bitterness. Carbonation is on the medium level. Surprisingly high bitterness so if you like that character in your lager beer you might like this. Taste has a similar things going on as the nose had: bready and sweet maltiness, toasty flavours and strong noble hops. Aftertaste is little bit sweet, but not cloyingly so.
Food pairings: Ham or Christmas casserole. Maybe some roasted meat if you have that.
3. Shepherd neame Christmas ale: 7% ABV English Strong ale
Red-copper beer with brilliant clarity. Head is off-white about one finger tall and has a creamy appearance. Foam leaves very thick laces on the glass.
Nose has much elements you would expect from the English strong ale: caramel maltiness, fruity esters plus there is some soft and mild spiciness. Pleasant.
Mouthfeel is full and soft with a gentle touch of alcohol warmth. Bitterness, light spiciness and lively carbonation makes this refreshing.
Taste has bready and caramel maltiness with fruity esters. The bitterness rises at the end leading to a crisp and dry aftertaste.
Nice and pleasant beer. Quite like a hybrid between English strong ale and Extra strong bitter. If you like classic English style ales this is definitely your beer!
Food pairing: This is the hardest to pair with anything. Maybe with ham or poultry. Mild flavour cheese could also go well with this. I also see this as the one you could drink as an after dinner drink. Perhaps you drink this as you’re opening presents?
4. St. Feuillen Cuvée de noël: 9% ABV Belgian dark strong ale
Ruby red colour with brilliant clarity. Large tan head with fluffy and creamy texture. Laces are leaving to the glass after foam goes down.
Nose: Spiciness and herbs (peppery, anis, licorise) dominates the aroma with supporting maltiness and dried fruit character.
Medium-light mouthfeel, very high carbonation with nice and round backbone. Warming touch of alcohol as well. Quality Belgian style mouthfeel.
Taste starts with thick maltiness, fruity esters and licorise and then turns into a peppery spicy aftertaste with anis rising it’s head once again. Some sweetness and alcohol are complementing other flavours nicely.
Good example of Belgian strong ale. I like the anis/licorise flavours and aroma the beer has.
Food pairings: This can really be paired with anything except maybe with dessert. Although this can act as the dessert as its own.
5. Anchor Old foghorn: 9,4% ABV American style Barleywine
Brilliant clarity, amber red coloured beer with thick beige head which stays around a while. I enjoy eyeing this.
Nose has all the elements you’d expect for an American style barleywine: citrusy and grapefruit hops with dried fruit supported by heavy caramel maltiness. Alcohol is also present and lets you know you’re dealing with a high ABV beer.
Mouthfeel is thick with warming alcohol and balancing bitterness and carbonation. Taste has similar elements as the nose had: although maltiness and caramel are stronger. Alcohol is a bit harsh at first but then mellows down to more softer and rounder so if you choose to buy this or a Christmas, let it warm up a bit.
Overall very elegant and tasty barleywine. Slow sipping as its of course should be. Highly recommended for anyone who likes strong and warming beers.
Food pairings: With strong cheese, such as blue cheese and/or as a nightcap after a long day. You could also drink this during the dinner with the main course if you like slow sipping beers.
6. Other beers
As we said, You could really enjoy so many different beers at your Christmas dinner. If you have salmon, a sour beer, for example a classic Flanders style red could be nice with that. If you have some kind of chocolate at Christmas, you could pair it with, lets say, an Imperial stout. Like Omnipollo’s Selassie (which we recently write a post about). Basically you can pick the beers you like and they probably work just fine. And don’t think just about beers labeled as Christmas beer 😉 Take what ever you like. Really the sky is the limit but hopefully this gave you same ideas in case you are a having a hard time to figure out what to drink during Christmas. Cheers everyone and happy holidays from all the Pint Please team!
-Jari from Pint Please