Seasonal brews have become commonplace, and perhaps overdone, by brewers both large and small. Ostensibly a take on the German Oktoberfest tradition, there are now special pumpkin stouts in the fall, light spring saisons and lemon shandys in the summer.
As winter begins to fill the air here on the Gulf Coast — we’ve already had a rare snowfall this season — there is a new host of winter styles brewers near and far want you to try. So I tried several.
Now that the “war on Christmas” has been won and we can once again celebrate the birth of the Lord openly and without persecution (thanks, President Trump!), Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Co. is free to brew its Christmas Ale, which has been out of production since way back in December 2016. Abita’s holiday brew is an amber ale — dark, with a thick head and rich malt taste. More bitter than a lot of amber ales, I liked it lot.
For the rest of us who celebrate Festivus, Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co.’s annual winter brew, Goose Fest Bier, is also a dark amber, but very different from the Abita. Dark in color, it had no head and a bold aftertaste with hints of bourbon. It was good but strong, and while only 5.7 percent ABV, I’m not sure I would like more than one at a sitting.
For you Druids out there celebrating the winter solstice, another amber brew, Samuel Adams’ Winter Lager, has light notes of spices, but is for the most part a rather nondescript beer It was by far the blandest of the holiday beers I sampled.
Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing’s winter selection, Accumulation, on the other hand, is an excellent White India Pale Ale. Brewed with wheat, it has a cloudy appearance, and while it is defiantly an IPA, with good hop flavors, it had some nice citrusy flavors that tempered its bitterness. It was excellent.
Finally, closer to home, Fairhope Brewing Co. is currently offering its Gingerbread Spiced Stout on tap. As I like gingerbread, I like stout and I like Fairhope Brewing Co., I thought I would really enjoy this holiday-inspired brew, but it was too sweet and gingerbready for me. No matter, as there are lots of good beers at the taproom on Nichols Avenue.
And if you are looking to take a break from shopping or any of the other holiday stressors, there will be live music at Fairhope Brewing on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23. Down at Gulf Shores, Big Beach Brewing Co. will also have live music on Dec. 22 and 23, and will be open Christmas Eve until 6.30 p.m.
So put down the eggnog, grab a brew and have a great holiday season!
(Photo | New Belgium Brewing – The seasonal Accumulation from New Belgium is a white IPA described as big and bitter, with the addition of wheat smoothing out the rough edge.)