Cheers to holiday beers

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Early November is a time most Valley beer lovers look forward to with great anticipation. Halloween is in the past, and the transition from fall to winter is well underway.

The Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers are nearly gone from store shelves and tavern tap handles. The beers made to help us celebrate the holidays have already begun to roll into retail displays and soon will dominate cooler space at stores and bars alike.

These holiday, or Christmas ales, as they are often called, are more numerous and diverse in style than ever before. This annual article includes some old favorites that have been top sellers in our Valley for years, along with some surprising new offerings that caught my attention during a recent tasting.

Holiday ales usually offer a higher alcohol content, which I’ve noted in my reviews. They often are made with ingredients and spices that we associate with the cuisine of our traditional holiday season. In fact, many breweries recommend serving their holidays drafts with cinnamon and sugar coating the rim of the glass.

Whatever your passion and palate for beer, there is something cool and unique out there for you to enjoy this holiday season. Here’s a look at some great options:

Home State Favorites

Great Lakes “Christmas Ale” (7.5% ABV)

A local and regional favorite for years now, it arrived in local stores this week to much fanfare. This year’s version includes a healthy dose of honey, spiced with cinnamon and ginger for a lively finish.

Thirsty Dog “Twelve Dogs of Christmas” (8.3% ABV)

Filled with seasonal flavors and generous amounts of roasted and caramel malts. Offers nutmeg as an enticing addition to the expected flavors of honey, ginger and cinnamon. The result is an intense yet highly drinkable holiday ale.

More Great Holiday Beers

Victory “Winter Cheers” (6.7% ABV)

A new addition to the holiday ale lineup this year, this one is truly different. You just don’t see too many wheat beers this time of year. It is lighter in body, yet warming, with a crisp finish and spicy hints of banana, clove and citrus.

Rogue Brewing Co. “Santa’s Private Reserve” (6% ABV)

A red ale that offers more hops than most holiday ales, this double-hopped red ale is roasty and malty in its flavor profile with a hoppy spruce finish. The creative packaging makes this an excellent gift for the beer lover on your list.

Great Divide “Hibernation Ale” (8.7% ABV)

As the name suggests, you can curl up to a fire with this one and not even feel the cold wind blowing outside. This robust dry-hopped ale has malty richness balanced with a complex hops profile and hearty, warming finish.

Breckenridge Brewery “Christmas Ale” (7.4% ABV)

Brewed to hold off the chill of a Colorado winter night, this ale offers a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate. Great body and balance with multiple flavors working in harmony.

Enjoy these holiday ales responsibly to enhance your time with family and friends. Keep an eye out on for more reviews as the holidays approach.


Contact Brian at or by visiting On, stay up to date with Brian’s tastes and travels 24/7.

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