Christmas scramble or Christmas shopping, Home Alone or Home Alone 2? There are plenty of choices to be made over the festive period (some easier than others) and stocking up on the right beer is no exception. Beer can often take a back seat at Christmas as mulled wine or cider, champagne or cava battle to kick start your festive spirit but for us lovers of great beer it doesn’t always have to be that way.
As ever, all the beers mentioned below can be found on the shelves of the main supermarkets to make it easy for you to source as you pile your trolley full of mince pies and after dinner mints. I’ve also included a section with a few special Christmas beers that you can only find online or at independent bottle shops.
So here are some pointers for beers that will hopefully suit the different situations we may find ourselves in over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Christmas or New Years Eve Party
Firstly, don’t drink and drive (unless you’re on the first tee of your club’s Christmas Scramble – more on that below). But if you do have to get behind the wheel then seek out these non-alcoholic beers.
Brewdog: Nanny State – plenty of fruit flavour from the juicy American hops in this one
Erdinger: Alkohol Frei – refreshing and crisp
Adnams: Ghost Ship Alcohol Free – go for this if traditional ales are your thing
If the car keys are at home and you want to avoid lame lagers or boring brown beers then these alternatives might get the party started. Low to mid-strength and quality ingredients make them a great choice to avoid over doing it and the inevitable hangover.
Vocation: Dirty Pilsner – almost an IPA/lager hybrid. Bundles of flavour and one of my current favourites
Brewdog: Dead Pony Club – lovely fruity pale. So easy to drink.
Camden: Hells – clean crisp lager
Instead of that pint in the clubhouse, or both if you’re not driving, then loosen up during the first few holes with one of these stored safely in your drinks holder.
Vocation: Breakfast Club – a maple and blueberry waffle stout
Fourpure: Juicebox – Citrus IPA
Brewdog: Elvis Juice – couldn’t resist including this juicy grapefruit IPA again. I prefer it from a can over the bottled version if you see both
Wild Beer: Ninkasi – let’s mix this up a bit and go for something a little different for pre-dinner drinks. This saison or farmhouse style beer incorporates apple juice and uses champagne yeast to give a spritziness on the tongue. Serve in a champagne flute. No, I’m being serious. Do the flute thing.
Westmalle: Dubbel – this dark luxurious Trappist ale provides dark fruit and malt with a dry slightly bitter balanced finish. Quality
Brewdog: 5am Saint – the malt backbone of this red ale complements the meat beautifully. Buy two and have the other with the cheeseboard
If Salmon is on the menu, try something light like a wit beer such as Hitachino Nest White or Camden’s Gentleman’s Wit or…. you could stick with the Ninkasi.
Fullers: Vintage Ale 2018 – a strong malty dark fruit sipper that should last long enough to enjoy with the cheese board too. Tip: buy three (one for now, one for a years time and keep the third for as long as you can and then check the going price*) *the price of beer can go down as well as up! If it goes down just drink it.
Titanic: Plum Porter – Christmas pud and plum porter. What’s not to like?
Finally, here are a few specialist beers to seek out.
Deus Brut des Flandres – for special occasions this is brewed in Belgium then transported to the champagne region to be re-fermented in the same way as champagne before being cellared for nine months. Serve in…. yep, you guessed it, a champagne flute.
St. Bernadus: Christmas Ale – Trappist Belgian ale with Christmas spices. Presence of cloves make this great with hot or cold ham.
Anchor: Merry Christmas & Happy New Year (2018) – brewed every year with a slightly different recipe. Christmas spices, burnt sugar and pine aromas are a theme. Christmas in a glass.
So there we go. I hope you find something that works for you. Do support your local pub, micropub or bottle shop over the season if you can and especially during the typically quiet January for them if you’re not abstaining.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all a great festive season.
Oh, and good luck for the Christmas Scramble.