‘Tis the season for family feasts, yuletide gatherings, and Christmas mayhem. What better way to celebrate the season than by imbibing in locally brewed beers from around New England? Instead of showing up with a bottle of Cabernet to this year’s Festivus party, grab a 22 oz. bomber or a growler of the brilliant beers discussed below.
1. Ursa Minor — Rising Tide Brewing Company
Do yourself a favor and drive to Rising Tide’s tasting room in Portland and fill up a growler of this wheat stout. You can get bottles at Hannaford, but at the brewery they have a nitrous hookup that makes the brew extra creamy like a Guinness. It’s a full-bodied stout that will hit the spot as we find ourselves in the darkest days of the year. (Also try: Zephyr (IPA) and Daymark (APA).)
2. Everett — Hill Farmstead Brewery
This one’s tougher to acquire than the other beers on this list, but if you’ve been nice — or extra naughty — there’s a chance this one could end up in your gullet this Christmas. You’ll have to drive to their brewery in Greensboro, Vermont to get it, but it’s worth the trip. Actually, saying it’s worth the trip is a vast understatement. This porter has the Hill Farmstead signature crisp freshness that is a direct result of their well water and yeast. It’s robust with heavy notes of fresh coffee. Show up with a growler of this brew, and you’ll be the hit of this year’s ugly sweater party. (Also try: Abner (IPA) and Edward (APA).)
3. King Titus — Maine Beer Company
Though by nature I’m a Lunch guy (mmm, Lunch), I’m going to highlight this porter offering from Maine Beer Company. It’s a roasty, malty beer that’s a perfect match for combating the cold days of December. There are some serious coffee notes, but it’s also got enough hops to offer some bitter at the end. (Also try: Mean Old Tom (Stout) and Mo (Pale Ale).)
4. Allagash Black — Allagash Brewing Company
I’m not normally an Allagash guy, but I’m going to give them some love with this winter choice. It’s a Belgium Strong Dark Ale that is absolutely brilliant for a dark offering. It’s not overpoweringly malty, and it has the right bite to make this guy want to go back for more. And with the cork top, it’s sure to make you look like a classy Steve when you walk into any gathering.
5. Celebration Ale — Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Ok, ok, ok, I know this isn’t a local brew. I catch a lot of flack for being a Sierra guy, but, come on, it’s one of the first microbrews created for this time of the year since the Homebrew Act of 1979. Its hop/malt balance of sweet and bitter and walloping alcohol content make this brew perfect for Uncle Leroy’s Yankee swap shindig. Just look at the label. Don’t you want to imbibe? (Also try: Sierra Nevada Porter.)
6. Winter Warmer — Harpoon Brewing Company
As my wife likes to say, “This beer tastes like Christmas.” I concur. I only drink about one bottle per year, usually around the time when we put up our Christmas tree, but I enjoy the heck out of that one beer. Harpoon beers have been off my radar for a long time, but I still come back to this nutmeg and cinnamon delight for a taste of the Christmas season.
7. Heady Topper — The Alchemist
Of course, any New England beer list wouldn’t be complete without adding Heady Topper. I’ll put that one to the ‘wish list.’ Like when you were a kid and you wanted a bike, but you also wanted a Nintendo, you tossed both on the list just in case Santa was feeling extra generous. (Also try: more Heady Topper.)
Remember, the artisan beer is the new bottle of wine — you can still be upper-crust and show up with beer to a Christmas party.