Booze-Cruise---ChristmasAleAnchorBeer_0Beer doesn’t have to be limited to summer activities like patio hopping and houseboat butt chugging. There are a slew of outstanding stouts, porters and seasonal beers that are the perfect match for our blustery Alberta weather. Here are five of my favourite winter beers to spread some holiday cheer.

Anchor Christmas Ale – San Francisco, California

From one of America’s first microbreweries, this fragrant seasonal ale has been produced since 1975. The recipe changes a little bit each year and the tree featured on the label also changes (a huge plus for the recreational arbourist in your life). The Anchor Christmas Ale is also available in magnums, which may be the appropriate format to drown out the awkward rants of your bigoted uncle Troy.

Hollows & Fentiman’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer – Northumberland, U.K.

I’ll have to admit I’m not always the biggest ginger beer fan, but all it took was one sip of this spicy beauty to make me a believer. The key to success of this traditionally made ginger beer is a long, slow fermentation and the use of real Chinese ginger. The spicy ginger kick is beautifully balanced with a touch of sweetness and a squeeze of lime makes this an extremely refreshing drop. If you really want to dial up your holiday antics, drop a shot of spiced rum into a pint of ginger beer to really get the party started.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale – Watou, Belgium

The jolly monk on the St. Bernardus label is one of the iconic images in the world of beer and, for their yearly Christmas release, he is fitted with a particularly festive Santa hat. This rich spiced quadruple exudes flavours of molasses, marzipan, licorice and dried apricot. A legendary brew!

Deschutes Jubelale – Bend, Oregon

Each year, Deschutes commissions a different local artist to produce their labels and this year’s artist, Avlis Leumas, captures the hipster spirit of Oregon perfectly! Lighter in style than the St. Bernardus and less flamboyant than the Anchor, this maintains a fresh finish while delivering flavours of licorice all sorts, cinnamon and roasted nuts. A must try!

Dieu du Ciel Aphrodisiaque – St-Jérôme, Quebec

The only thing more powerful than my liquor tooth is my sweet tooth, which makes this delicious stout a match made in heaven. The aptly named Aphrodisiaque is like dessert in a glass, with a mouth-coating texture that is like drinking liquid pudding. The addition of fair trade cocoa and vanilla beans give this beer dynamite flavour, and set it apart from some of the artificially flavoured beers on the market that can be overly sweet and cloying. Truly sexy stuff.

By Jesse Willis

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