12 beers for Christmas that will tempt taste buds

Part of what seals the energy and feeling of the holidays are the things that tickle your senses.

The sights, the sounds, the scents — and especially the flavors.

With each passing year a growing parade of seasonal craft beers is showing up on retail shelves to help accompany and celebrate the season.

Right now, store shelves are filed with the offerings you might expect to see, like Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Sam Adams Winter Lager. But there are some other options worth seeking out with new flavors fitting for the cold weather this week and beyond.

Here’s a look at the 12 beers of Christmas for 2020 — worthy seasonal craft beers to warm yourself with as you celebrate the season properly.

Nitro Jet Black Heart, Brewdog


BrewDog is a Scottish multinational brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland. It opened its first U.S. brewery in 2017 in Columbus alongside the DogHouse, a BrewDog-owned hotel that offers beer in every place and circumstance you can think of, including the shower. BrewDog is one of my favorite breweries. This stout is as dark as they come and just about as smooth. It’s decadent, with a rich vanilla oatmeal flavor with deep, rich chocolate notes.

Citra Noel, Columbus Brewing Company


The flavors in this hoppy red ale oscillate and vary like bells ringing. It goes from a bitter, bright high note thanks to the Citra hops to a toasty, malty low note, and back again. This year it showed up in cans for the first time. It’s a nice sipping beer.

Dad (Hoppy Holiday Ale), Rhinegeist Brewery


This is another mahogany-colored hoppy red ale that’s more warm and snugly than the Citra Noel, with just a hint of citrus.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Deth’s Tar, Revolution Brewing


This is a huuuuuuge limited-release beer coming in at 14.8% alcohol, but don’t the holidays call for excess? It’s a barrel-aged Russian imperial oatmeal stout brewed with English specialty malts and the addition of flaked and malted oats imbuing it with a hot-chocolate-like profile and silky mouthfeel. Aged in Heaven Hill and Old Forester bourbon barrels for 12 months then blended, it is a rich concoction packed with holiday flavors, including chocolate, vanilla and caramel.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Icelandic Winter Ale, Einstok Olgero (Einstok Beer Company)


This is Iceland’s No. 1 craft beer company located just 60 miles south of the Arctic circle in the fishing port of Akureyri. This 8%-alcohol offering is brewed with spruce tips and Icelandic smoked barley. It is a solid, warm, full-bodied offering that doesn’t overpower with holiday flavors. The malty gingerbread notes will pair perfectly with pork or smoked meat and is sure to warm you like a Viking this holiday season.

Trees of Tahoe, Fifty West Brewing Company


This piney, citrusy pale ale from Cincinnati’s Fifty West is crisp, light and very drinkable. It’s like a walk through the woods for the taste buds. At 5.5% alcohol, it’s one you can head back to for a second round without guilt. It’s satisfying, light and joyful.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Tripel Dog Dare, Great Lakes


This Belgian-style tripel ale was available only as a seasonal brewpub exclusive, but like Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, it captured hearts and distribution. This is a spicy big beer at 9% alcohol with a medley of citrus, pepper, clove and honey.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Peppermint Porter, Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.


From the great minds that have brought us Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale comes this avalanche of mint and chocolate that tastes like a Bourbon peppermint patty. It would be perfect with a scoop of ice cream. Out of all of the heavy, dark holiday beers out there, this is one of my recent favorites.

Peanut Butter Milk Stout, Left Hand Brewing Company


If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you will like this boozy Buckeye-candy-in-a glass beer. Left Hand Brewing Company has taken its classic milk-stout recipe and added peanut buttery goodness.

Roasted Hazelnut Milk Porter, Moeller Brew Barn


This is an opportunity to indulge with a milky-sweet chocolate porter blended with the flavor of fresh-ground roasted hazelnuts. It’s a beer meant to be savored, with a silky-smooth malted finish that is dessert in a glass. Moeller Brew Barn has locations in both Maria Stein and Troy, and both are worth seeking out. The Troy location is in a beautiful old church, and it’s a wonderful addition to the local craft-beer scene.

Accumulation, New Belgium


In tasting notes New Belgium Brewing explains that this flavorful white IPA “is a direct revolt against the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for the winter.” It’s brewed using Amarillo and Mosaic hop varietals, and the result is a clean, crisp, slightly hoppy beer with layers of juicy citrus and pine notes. It’s a refreshing delight.

Rockmill Tripel or Dubbel or Cherry Sour or Holiday Ale or anything you can get your hands on, Rockmill Brewery


I have yet to try a Rockmill beer I don’t like. So many of them lend themselves to the holidays that it’s hard to choose just one, so feel confident choosing just about any. In addition to having amazing beer, this is another brewery to add to the list of places to visit when it warms. The family-owned, small-production brewery in Lancaster sits on a 23-acre 19th century horse farm that once served as a stagecoach stop and tavern. It offers plenty of space for outdoor distancing.


Xmas Pickle, Urban Artifact


If you’ve never heard about the Christmas pickle hidden on the holiday tree, look it up. It’s a tradition many homes still follow, including mine. This Gose offering has a tart pickle taste, and is without question the one beer on the list that’s definitely the most acquired taste, which is why we include it as the bonus beer. It’s tart, tart, tart, mixed with pickle. I’d personally like to try one with a bowl of Blind Bob’s pickle soup. I love pickles, so I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’ve never had anything quite like it. The cans are adorable, and this would definitely make for a gift that sparks much conversation.

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