Hops For The Holidays 2017: Six Must-Have Seasonal Beers

The holidays are here, which means one of two things: You’re either getting ready to create new memories with friends and loved ones, or you’re bundling up in a state of hibernation, waiting for spring to return. Either way, you’re going to need some beer to help you through the season.

Of course, you already know that. But perusing the unending variety of beer on the shelf is a challenge these days. There are just so many options. Well, worry not. Phil DiCarlo, co-owner of Craft Beer Cellar Fenway—the neighborhood’s preeminent beer store—is at your service. You may know him already, as he has given us the skinny on summertime suds, fall beer, and more. We were able to get him to take a break from curating one of the best craft beer portfolios around to give us the lowdown on holiday beers.

Here goes:
Anchor Brewing – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 
Befitting its name, Anchor is one of the most established and reputable craft breweries in the game. The company began peddling good beer before the very idea of “good beer” was a twinkle in a drinker’s eye. And this winter offering is sure to let you know why. At 5.5% ABV, it won’t knock you out, but the bouquet of molasses and taste of malty chocolate will warm you up all the same.

Phil says, “This classic beer is a mainstay at many Christmas dinners. Buy a 1.5 liter bottle to share with the whole family. The 2015 version, aged one year, is also available.”

Port Brewing – Santa’s Little Helper
There are actually two versions of this imperial stout. One is a little more palatable for those looking for a less aggressive drink (though it’s still pretty heavy at around 9.5% ABV). And the other is aged in bourbon barrels, clocking in at a hearty 12% ABV. Frankly, you can’t go wrong with either one.

Phil says, “Enjoy the chocolate and vanilla aroma.”

Sierra Nevada – Celebration Ale
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you need to avoid hop-heavy beers, of course. And who better to remind you of that than Sierra Nevada, one of the craft beer forbearers of our love affair with the hop flower. Celebration Ale is a dry-hopped IPA, plenty bitter with 65 IBUs, but balanced for the season with two-row pale and caramel malts.

Phil says, “This beer made its debut in 1981, but it’s as great today as it ever was.”

Troegs – Mad Elf 
This strong dark Belgian ale is strong and nuanced enough to impress the most seasoned drinkers among us, while sweet and palatable enough not to scare off beer newcomers. Expect the ruby red body of this 11% ABV concoction to give way to delicious notes of chocolate, cherry, cinnamon and clove.

Phil says, “This is such a great, enjoyable beer that is extremely drinkable. The cherry and honey tastes hide the 11% ABV a little too well. So watch out for this Mad Elf; he will sneak up on you.”


St. Bernardus – Christmas Ale 
This quad from one of the only Trappist breweries on the planet is a must-try. It employs the St. Bernardus house yeast strain—in use since 1946—and boasts a flavor profile of molasses, licorice, and apricots.

Phil says, “This is another beer that hides its high ABV well (10%). It’s a very complex quad with dark fruits, cinnamon flavors, and a smell that’s as good as its taste.”

Brasserie Dubuisson Fères – Bush De Noël (Scaldis Noël) 
On the nose, notes of banana and pineapple might deceive you into thinking this is a summer beverage. But the bitter sweetness, emphasized by caramel and praline, all backed by a 12% ABV content, will bring you right back into winter—in a good way.

Phil says, “This beer has a great, sweet caramel taste and a banana aftertaste. It’s another big ABV beer, clocking in at 12%.”

Lest we forget, CBC Advent Boxes—thoughtfully selected, hand-wrapped beers—make for a great gift or personal treat. As does the beer of the month program—sign up and enjoy a curated sample of up to 12 smaller bottles and 3 larger bottles throughout the month. Ask about each during your next visit, for a great gift to someone special—or to yourself. Happy drinking!

Craft Beer Cellar
98 Van Ness Street, Boston, MA, 02215

Monday - Saturday | 10am to 10pm
Sunday | 11am to 8pm


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