One cool thing about beer is that it's so seasonal. Brewers can make a new batch anytime they want and tailor its flavors and styles to the season. Winter beers and Christmas ales have long been a favorite among both brewers and drinkers. And here in the Bay Area we have more than our fair share of choices. Here's a four of my faves, each in a different style:
Anchor Christmas Ale -- In its 35th anniversary, this spiced and herbed beer is the first modern holiday beer brewed in America. It ignited the trend, but still retains its freshness by changing its recipe from year to year (in what way, we don't know, as it's a secret) and getting a subtly new label design. It's delicious and easily found on tap and in bottle everywhere.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale -- A perennial favorite not just as a holiday beer, but as simply a great beer-- perfectly balanced between assertive hops and malt, between a sort of quaffable quencher and a meditative sipper.
Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager -- And interesting beer as it's got the spices of a lot of xmas beers, but it's not a soft, dark ale but a sprightly, zesty lager. A refreshing departure from the norm.
Lagunitas Brown Shugga -- Lots of brown sugar is actually added to the brew to lighten the beer's texture while adding alcohol. It's reddish, hoppy, and festive, pitting assertive hops with a sugary almost maple syrup note on a smooth, graceful body.
P.S. City Beer Store is having a Holiday Beer tasting on Saturday from 6-9. Tickets available at the store.