Christmas time is here and let’s face it, eggnog is for pansies! Just joking, eggnog is fine and so are mulled wine and hot buttered rum, or candy cane schnapps, or whatever other thing convention tells us we should sip out of reindeer tumblers this time of year.
But the fact is we’re beer people and we don’t stop being beer people just because there’s a fir tree in our living rooms. Here are the Bay Area grogs you should be sipping this holiday. Merry Christmas and a happy new beer to you all!
Christmas Ale / Anchor Brewing (5.5 percent alcohol): Pretty sure if you write a Bay Area holiday beer review without mentioning Anchor’s Christmas Ale they take away your press pass. Personally, I view drinking Anchor to be like getting blackout drunk with co-workers: something I only enjoy at Christmas. Their ale changes every year, but never disappoints. The 2015 batch, inspired by a Deodar cedar tree, is sweet and caramelly, a change from last year’s piney ale. The hint of cardamom perfectly balances the sweetness of this beer so it doesn’t weigh heavily on the palate or stick in your stomach long after.
Panda Bear Ale / ThirstyBear (6.4 percent alcohol): This beer will forever go down in history as the only beer my grandma will ever drink! This golden ale is is brewed with cocoa nibs and vanilla. Due to the witchcraft of brewer Brenden Dobel, this beer has all the creamy mouthfeel of a fine stout, but with the easy drinkability of a lighter beer. You and your grandma should pair this beer with some more savory Christmas cookies, like gingerbread, to balance out the sweetness.
Paris of the West / Almanac (9.5 percent alcohol): This beer is lovely, dark and deep and has some of the prettiest bottle art I’ve seen in a long time (since Sam Adam’s Infinium at least). This beer is a quadruple style ale, whose hints of candied citrus, brown sugar and dark raisins bring to mind the Dickensian kids who used to be stoked to get oranges as stocking stuffers. Paris’ flavors pack a decadent punch and that high ABV makes this beer perfect to sip while fielding relatives’ questions about what you’re doing with your life.
Fireside Chat / 21st Amendment (7.9 percent alcohol): 21st Amendment truly is the brewery for all seasons. This English style ale is heavy with cocoa nib bitter sweetness that’s balanced by a subtle spice. It’s basically Mexican hot chocolate that can get you tipsy. This beer can be sipped with appetizers or used as a dessert all by itself.