Friday, December 20, 2013

This year's holiday brews, Ghost of Christmas Present

Every year I try to reach into my bag of beer related tricks and present you with the best beers of the season here in Indy. You can check out what we drank last year here. I'm really excited about 2013. We have some great brews for you to try. If you are looking for some great holiday brews to bring to a party this weekend, you've come to the right place. Tis the season for some awesome and super creative spiced brews. Show your friends you know your craft beer and break out something exciting. This year we have some new stuff to the area on Santa's wish list. I hope you find something perfect to get you and yours in the spirit.

There's been a local holiday delight that I haven't gotten around to trying, so this year I decided to give myself a present and pick up Naughty Claus by New Albanian. It poured out a nice amber color with almost no head. It smelled like cinnamon, nutmeg and dark fruits. There were tons of added flavors in this brew. All in, I wish it had a little more from the base beer. A bit more malt, would help balance out the crazy holiday spices. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite this season. I give it a 2.5

Every year in November, Three Floyds descends from Munster with a sack full of their Xmas Porter. This is a big black porter with a nice coffee flavor, but like all things FFF does, they smack you in the face right afterwords with some really big citrus hops. It gives it a super unique flavor that's somewhere between holiday porter and IPA. Like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, this has become a true holiday classic. I give it a 3.

Who wants to drink a Christmas tree???? I do!!! Last year I was lucky enough to do a vertical of Our Special Ale by Anchor Brewing. This year, I had to go pick up the 2013 edition. It pours out dark with amber highlights and smells like ginger, oranges and pine resin. The flavor matches the nose pretty damn well. There are some nice roasty notes in the malt that blend well with the hops and the added spices. Theres a big bittter front end with a nice smooth nutty spicy finish. It's a really good Christmas brew and I think it'll age nicely. I give it a 3 this year, but I'm guessing that will only go higher the longer I wait.

Southern Tier is a new brewery that we just started seeing here in Indy this summer (just started seeing again here in Central Indiana. Apparently they used to distribute here regularly and still distribute up North) . I've been very impressed with their beer so far, so I was excited to see that they had a Christmas style bomber, Krampus. I was even more excited when I found out that it was an imperial helles lager. There wasn't anything spiced, nothing changed, just an old school German style amped up with a little more alcohol. It was a wonderful malty beer. Perfect for the season without being spiced by non beer flavors. This is a clean crisp classic. Big abv but well balanced all around. I give it  a merry 3.5

Jolly Pumpkin is one that I haven't really tried enough of. They've been here in Indy for a bit, but they haven't really hit my radar. Everything these guys do is sour, so I'm really not sure how it took me this long to get on the Jolly Pumpkin bandwagon. Their holiday beer is Noel de Calabaza, and this is a nice dark sour beer with just a hint of holiday spice. Its got big tartness and dark fruit, like cherries plums and winter berries upfront with a really nice dry bret finish. These guys have really mastered the mix of wild yeast strains, which isn't easy. I give it a puckering 4

Like many Hoosiers, I spent Thanksgiving out of town with my in-laws. Lucky for me, my in-laws live in the Chicagoland area, and that means Revolution! I got my hands on a few six packs of Revolution's Fistmas. Fistmas is a spiced red ale that has all the flavors of Christmas packed into a delicious 12 oz can. It is perfectly spiced though, not too little not too much. El Duque had issues with the pumpkin beers because they're all so heavily spiced. This brew is the perfect blend of spice and base beer. Well done Revolution. If you can get up North pick up a sixer. Hell, get one for me too. I give this beer a 4.5

I'm a huge fan of the Prairie Bomb, so when I heard that Prairie had put out a wax topped Old Ale Christmas beer I had to go try it for myself. I love the big abv beers, especially if they can figure out how to balance them out. I wasn't disappointed. This thing was incredibly tasty. There was almost no hops, with a great malt bill that's perfectly spiced. Big dark fruits that verged on being a bit sour, played on top of a nice roasty malt flavor. The spices were really light and well balanced. Everything compliments the malts nicely. I believe that this is in fact the beer that will save Christmas for all of us! go get it while you can! I give it a joyous 4.5 and this was my favorite Christmas beer this year!

When you're getting set to go to a holiday party this weekend, take a little extra time in the beer aisle. Pass by some of the brews that you have all the time, and look for something festive. We have so many great breweries in town and even more great breweries who've started distributing here. Above are the beers that I really loved this season, go out and find what you love. Cheers!


  1. good post. one correction. Southern Tier is not technically new to Indy or Indiana. They actually never left Indiana as a whole, but stopped delivering down here from northern indiana due to distribution issues. Prior to that stoppage they had been here regularly. So definitely not new to the scene, and they have never stopped being in Indiana. Whenever I'm in Northern Indiana I had always gotten my ST fix up there. If you're new to their beers, you gotta check out of the finer chocolate stouts around. I also have a couple bottles of the recently discontinued Mokah, which I think is fantastic. I will bring one to share sometime. Good stuff on Jolly Pumpkin, they do some crazy awesome things. As does Prairie and Revolution. Good read. Cheers!

  2. I had Choklat for the first time on Christmas Eve. It was excellent, so great recommendation! I am totally interested in Mokah if its half as good as Choklat. Thanks for the info on Southern Tier. My liquor store contact called it new over the summer, but he may be new enough he didn't know either. Cheers baby!