By Jon Abernathy
For The Bulletin
I must confess, when it comes to the holidays, I am a sucker for beers with Christmas and holiday themes. Every year on my Brew Site blog, thebrewsite.com, I run a “Beer Advent Calendar” feature, which reveals a new beer each day in December, counting down to Christmas. So in similar fashion for this Yuletide season, I present 12 beers of Christmas for your drinking merriment.
These are all available in Central Oregon, and for extra credit you can enjoy one for each of the 12 days of Christmas from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5.
1. Deschutes Brewery Jubelale
Bend’s oldest brewery introduced “Jubel-Ale” in 1988, its first year open, and starting in 1995, Deschutes has commissioned a different regional artist to design the label each year. The beer itself is a classic English-style Winter Warmer, robust and malty with flavors of toffee, dried fruits and dark brown sugar.
2. Three Creeks Brewing Rudolph’s Imperial Red Ale
Everyone knows the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” immortalized in 1964 in the Rankin/Bass television special. Three Creeks’ nod to the crimson-snouted caribou is a hefty American strong red ale, sweet and roasty with a balance of hops and alcohol warmth.
3. McMenamins Old St. Francis School Kris Kringle
McMenamins’ Traditional Yuletide Ale is a robust and malty brown ale kissed with spices. The recipe changes a bit each year. The 2016 edition was brewed with ample amounts of caramel and chocolate malts, with ginger and cinnamon to round out the spice.
4. Silver Moon Brewing Elf Brew
The style of Silver Moon’s holiday beer changes every year, allowing for a bit of mischievous creativity on the part of the brewers (perhaps not unlike Santa’s helpers). The original recipe was flavored with lavender; this year they took inspiration from Germany to brew a Doppelsticke Altbier, a double-strength brown-colored ale that is malty and rich.
5. Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale
Anchor’s holiday beer (also known as Our Special Ale) is the original from which the American craft tradition sprung. First released in 1975, the recipe changes each year as does the tree on the label. That recipe is a heavily guarded secret, but generally takes the form of a spiced, moderately dark ale of six and a half percent alcohol by volume.
6. Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus
This strong Bock-style lager from Austria is a modern classic, debuting in 1980 and once ranked among the strongest beers in the world at a whopping 14 percent alcohol by volume. The name “Samichlaus” means “Santa Claus” and it is brewed every year on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, and aged for a year to be released the following holiday season. This is a perfect beer to share and will age very well should you choose to save a bottle for a future Christmas.
7. Pfriem Family Brewers Belgian Christmas Ale
Hood River’s Pfriem Family Brewers is only four years old but has become a multiple award-winning brewery, particular in Belgian beer styles. Its Belgian Christmas Ale begins as a Belgian-style Dubbel, a reddish-copper moderately strong ale with dark fruit character, to which they add coriander and possibly other spices.
8. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
From Belgium comes a candy-like Belgian Quadrupel with a boozy warming presence of 10 percent alcohol. Despite the strength you’ll find notes of dates, licorice, apricots, and even marzipan, according to the brewery.
9. Pelican Brewing Bad Santa
This Pacific City brewery offers a Cascadian Dark Ale to please the hop lovers for Christmas. This so-called “black IPA” pairs roasted malt flavors with herbal, floral hops to present something a little bit different from the other beers on this list.
10. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
A perennial favorite, Celebration Ale is widely considered the first modern American IPA. First introduced in 1981, it bucked the trend of malt-forward, spiced ales with bold citrusy American hops.
11. Hair of the Dog Brewing Doggie Claws
Fans of strong ales will find much cheer in this holiday barleywine, a sweet, hoppy, and boozy tipple with layers of complexity. The 11½ percent alcoholic strength is boosted by the addition of wildflower honey collected from the slopes of Mt. Hood.
12. Lompoc Brewing 8 Malty Nights
This final beer isn’t a Christmas one — this is a Hanukkah beer in honor of the holiday beginning on Dec. 24 this year. Portland’s Lompoc Brewing first brewed this chocolate rye ale in 2009, and it has returned every year since. Dark brown in color and lightly hopped, 8 Malty Nights exhibits a touch of spice from the rye and finishes slightly sweet.
Merry Christmas and hoppy holidays!
— Jon Abernathy is a local beer blogger and brew aficionado. His column appears in GO! every other week.