Christmas Beer Yuletide Guide of Spiced Ales, Xmas Stouts & Winter Lagers

Merry Beer-Mas: Must-Try Christmas Beers & Winter Lagers

Christmas beer, a festive and seasonal delight, is brewed specifically to add cheer to the holiday season. Characterized by its rich spices and robust alcohol content, this beer is a harmonious blend of unique ingredients.

Imagine savoring the warming notes of vanilla, the richness of coffee and cocoa beans, and the zesty tang of orange peel, all melded with the exotic aromas of cinnamon, cloves, and mint.

The foundation of this yuletide brew lies in its high malt base and potent alcoholic strength, contributing to a fuller body that perfectly complements the chilly winter atmosphere.

Unconstrained by strict brewing standards, Christmas Beer emerges each year as a trendy, high-ABV beverage that captures the essence of the festivities, making it a much-anticipated highlight of the winter celebrations.

Best Types of Beers for Christmas 

Seasonal or Christmas beer is well-known for its spice and high alcohol content. These are unique beverages used for cold seasons and winter days. These drinks are marketed and sold as a malty-rich with tons of mixtures.

Here are the best types or styles of beer to create a perfect festive drink.

As said before, there are several types of beer used when brewing this spicy drink. To make this drink, brewers usually use Stouts, Porters, Brown Ales, Belgian Ales, and some IPA.

Even before Christmas season comes around, brewers start its production. They use different styles depending on the ingredients and flavors they want to market.

Ales aka “Winter Warmer”

Alesalso known as winter warmers— are standard in the making of Christmas beer. This style provides an amber or dark brown color with an alcohol content of around 5-to-8%. The Old Ale has a potent flavor of caramel and toasty malt. It provides a remarkable taste with a sensation of sweetness and richness . It makes it a favorite among users. 

On the other hand, there is the Old Ales are also called Stock Ales. These are the same style: malted and flavorful ale. The only difference between the regular ale and the Old Ale, it the ageing process. The Old Ale aged for an extended period. It makes it have a higher alcohol volume: around 8% and higher.

Even though some brewers use Old Ale for some of the Christmas Beer, it is not common to see one in local groceries and liquor stores. 

“Christmas Ales” appeared around the mid 90s and early 2000s. These Ales were attractive to lots of people. American brewers wanted to create and market a seasonal beer after other special events such as Oktoberfest and the famous Pumpkin beer season. 

Christmas and winter beers were the best option for American Brewers. It is not marketed as a special Christmas drink, yet it is highly associated with the ingredients and spices used. This style of beer is typically used to create a spicy and flavorful beverage for a special occasion. It also allows using an extensive list of many different spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and more.

Belgian Ales are stronger and more vibrant Ales. Many of these festive beers are based in Belgian strong dark ale. These strong dark ales are a perfect combination of rich malt, caramel, fruity and bready flavors. These ales are a good option if you like richer and more complicated beverages—as well as a higher alcohol level in your festive beverage.

The Belgian Ales have higher alcohol content than the American ales, around 1 or 2% above the rate. Even though they are used to include spices for the cold season, they are a little more subtle than the American version of Christmas Ales.

Christmas Ale Beer Homebrew Recipes:

Stout aka “Christmas in a Glass”

Stout Beer is also used as common ‘Christmas Beer’. It is a dark beer, with lots of variations. The most common and frequent iteration is Dry Stout. It has a high alcohol level of around 7-8%. Depending on the brewery company, it can be sweet and dry. It is elaborated with toasty malt, and it has a dark color close to black.

Many brewers choose this style to make a highly concentrated Christmas beer.

Brewers use spices and other ingredients such as milk or lactose to make an Imperial milk Christmas Stout is another common sight .This style is perfect for cold temperature since it gives a warm taste when drinking.

Christmas IPA

The last popular beer is the Christmas IPA. This style is lighter than the ones discussed earlier. It has a high alcohol level around 7-8%, even though it is a pale ale. Brewers find it fun to create unique flavors by mixing this style with other spices. Spices that are commonly used for this style of beer are ginger, cinnamon, mint and others. 

All these beer styles are frequent in the use, creation and production of seasonal Christmas beers. Thanks to the intense and complex flavors these beer styles feature, It’s common to mix them with rare spices; the idea is to deliver and market an exclusive beer for the cold season.

Every year, many brewers come up with various Christmas beers with different tastes, flavors and textures. Some are unique holiday brews related to Christmas sweets and change year after year. This brew also creates a confident expectation for users about what seasonal mixture and ingredients they will taste next time.

Xmas Beer Bucklist

  • St Bernadus Christmas
  • Delirium Noel
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale
  • Troegs Mad Elf
  • Prairie Christmas Bomb!
  • Old Fezziwig
  • 12 Dogs
  • Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale
  • Samichlaus
  • Brown Shugga
  • Praire Seasick Crocodile Christmas Sour
  • Einstök Icelandic Winter Ale
  • Anchor Steam Christmas Ale
  • Bell’s Christmas Ale
  • Highland Cold Mountain
  • Shiner Holiday Cheer
  • War on Xmas (white stout)
  • Stone Xocoveza
  • Pennsylvania Tuxedo
  • Deschutes Abyss
  • Bohemia Noche Buena Beer
  • Samuel Adams chocolate bock
  • Boulevard Nutcracker Ale
  • Ninkasi Sleigh’r
  • Firestone Cinnamon Dolce stout

St Bernadus Christmas Ale

Delirium Noel

Sierra Nevada Celebration

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Troegs Mad Elf

Prairie Christmas Bomb!

Old Fezziwig

12 Dogs

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale


Brown Shugga

Praire Seasick Crocodile Christmas Sour

Einstök Icelandic Winter Ale

Bell’s Christmas Ale

Highland Cold Mountain

Shiner Holiday Cheer

War on Xmas (white stout)

Stone Xocoveza

Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Deschutes Abyss

Bohemia Noche Buena Beer

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

Boulevard Nutcracker Ale

Ninkasi Sleigh’r

Firestone Cinnamon Dolce Stout

Best Brands of Christmas Beer

This list includes a diverse range of homemade and imported beers. The menu consists of the best and most purchased brands from customers.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale : this brand is a six-time gold and silver medal winner since 1999. Great Lakes Brewing Company creates its brew in Cleveland. This beer is an ale with ingredients including honey, ginger and cinnamon.

This beer is on the market in November and December exclusively. Its alcohol level is 7.5%, which makes it a strong ale. This beer is a favorite among many users. 

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale: this brand provides a dark seasonal beer with an alcoholic content of 10%. The brand offers the drinker an exclusive aroma of this brand’s yeast strain.

This beer has a spicy, minty flavor and a warming alcohol texture. This brand is known for having an outstanding balance between the sugars, fermented molasses, apricots and liquorices. This festive beverage is highly purchased during winter and cold temperatures.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: this festive beer brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is a top favorite. It offers generous amounts of barley malts. This amber shade beer has floral, pine and resin aromas which remind drinkers of Christmas time.

It also provides a high malty presence. Its taste is bitter with a small amount of fruity sense. It allows a dry and bitter finish, which makes it a top choice for Christmas season.

Karl Strauss Two Tortugas Holiday Quadruple Ale: 2011 saw the birth of this beer by Karl Strauss Brewing Company. It was just a one-time release, but customer demands and various winning medals and achievements made this brew a regular for Christmas.

It provides a dark fruit and caramel aroma, with a slight hint of bubblegum. It has a rich malty flavor mixed with plums, dates and toffee. It also has an alcohol level of 11.1%. 

Bell’s Christmas Ale: this type of holiday beer is vibrant and malty. It provides notes of caramel and a warm sensation when drunk. It is released by Bell’s Brewery INC every year around November.

Its alcoholic levels are around 7.50%. Most drinkers find this holiday beverage a perfect way to celebrate with family and friends.

Delirium Noel: this is a seasonal beer released by Delirium Brewery. It is a Belgian Strong Ale beer with a 10% alcohol level. This beer has an amber color shade, and it provides a creamy foam. Its flavor reminds drinkers of festive sweet bread, malt and caramel. 

Goose Islands Christmas Ale: this is an American brown ale brewed by Goose Island Beer Co. It was only available during the winter season with an alcoholic content of 7.3%. This beer counts with chocolate, coconut and fruity flavors. Although it is no longer brewed, it marketed during the Christmas holidays. 

Drinkers highly recommend all these top-rated Christmas beverages. It is also purchased at a high rate during the winter season and holidays. We could notice that there are some repeated ingredients, but with other mixtures, different alcohol levels, the style of the beer changes completely.

There is an extended range of Christmas beers, but those mentioned before are the best kind with no doubt. 

Traditions of the Christmas Beer

The beer as a traditional Christmas beverage may go way back to the Vikings era. The Vikings drank to honor their Gods during the Scandinavian celebrations, called Jul. This tradition became so important in the Scandinavian culture that it remained with them even after Christianity took over. 

In Norway, it was decreed by law that beer must be drunk during the celebrations. This law was created by king Haakon I. Long after; the Vikings invaded the British Isles, where they continued to celebrate this tradition.

Around the 17th century, Swedes were the first to bring this Christmas beer tradition to North America. 

Even though they were the first Europeans to bring over this tradition to America, it was the British who popularized the spicy, malty and robust brews concept in this celebration.

Today, every brewing company produces and markets their own Christmas beers. They use different ingredients and spices. It delivers a whole new experience to users. These beers usually feature a robust, complex and sweet malty flavor; it makes a favorite beverage during the Christmas celebration. 

Christmas beers are now just as crucial as jingles, decorations, and presents. Every year, customers enjoy this festive beverage during the holiday—each with outstanding spices of their preference. 

Craft or Commercial for Christmas?

Which beer should you use for seasonal brew is a question that everyone is asking. Craft and industrial beer have many benefits and issues; comparing them, we’ll reach a straightforward answer.

Craft beer is a beer made with non-industrialized mechanisms. It is usually created and produced by a small brewery. These brewery companies focus on the importance of the technique used to make craft beer, its taste and the quality of the product. It is usually considered art between brewers.

Today, industrial beer is produced by larger companies, with high technology and a massive amount of ingredients to provide as much as possible. 

Now, let’s talk about their differences. 

Appearance: industrial or mass-produced beer is usually pale, watery and yellow. The head of the beer does not last long when poured on a beer glass. Instead, craft beers come in a wide variety of colors and textures depending on the brew.

Taste: industrial beer often focuses on a particular or specific flavor, not more than one. These beers are served cold. Craft beers brewers are concentrated on a specific characteristic or many types of feelings and served at a perfect temperature for drinkers to taste and notice the flavors even better.

Production: to produce industrial beer, it is necessary for these companies to purchase cheaper ingredients to reduce the price of the product. Craft beer, on the other hand, is made with specific and well-selected ingredients to create a high-quality beer. It is also produced by brewmasters in smaller batches, making craft beer an excellent experience for the customer.

More alcohol: craft beers may come in different sizes and shapes, but they all contain a high amount of alcohol. Some of them may range between 5-10% or from 40% and higher. If we compare craft beers with the industrial beer, we will notice that industrial beers don’t have extremely high alcohol content. 

Less cost: the cost of a drinking session can be lower if you drink craft beer. Industrial beer lasts a shorter time when opened, so drinkers usually have to drink it faster to enjoy the flavors. Now, with craft beers, you would be able to slowly enjoy your beer, with no risk of losing its taste.

You can also meet the people who craft the beer. You can visit a local craft brewery where your favorite beer is made. You are allowed to meet the people that are part of the process of making your beer and ask questions, comments and even make new friends. Craft breweries offer tours where you can get free samples of all the beers available.

Craft beer and food go together perfectly. Just like wine, you can pair craft beer with many different foods. There are a lot of lists with food options paired up with different brewed beers. There are also lots of beer and food pairing events you could attend. These events are becoming very popular for craft beer lovers and enthusiast.

Therefore, to choose a beer for the Christmas beverages, craft beer has lots of benefits and features which will make the festive drink, even better. As said before, craft beer offers a variety of tastes and flavors.

Craft beer is also perfect for seasonal beverages because it is limited, and it allows a variety of ingredients and spices. Brewmasters always choose the best ingredients, especially for season beers such as pumpkin spice beer. 

Although some industrial beers create a seasonal beer, drinkers are most attracted to the craft beer. The main reason is that it delivers warmth and a unique taste that industrial beers do not provide in their products.

Industrial beer often flattens when it is served in beer glasses much quicker. To produce a seasonal beverage successfully, it should last in the glassware for some time without flattening or without it losing its taste. For this and much more reason, craft beer is the best option for Christmas beers. 

Today, the American craft beer market is valued for 23.5 billion US dollars. Craft beer has become popularized because it has a diverse variety; it’s local and goes well with appetizers.

Christmas Beer or Winter Seasonal Beers?

Winter beers are a comforting light during these dark days. The seasonal beers that hit the shelves are exactly what I’m in the mood for when the weather sucks. They are dark, malty, and boozy.

Winter Beers

Winter beers are traditional beer styles that happen to fit well with the season. That is, beers that are good during winter. Malt is the showcase while the hops hibernate until spring. A winter beer is rich and complex. It should be sipped by a fireplace or a 47″ flat screen with the game on. Typical winter style beers are old ales, stouts, barley wines, scotch ales, and smoke beers.

Now here’s the thing – many breweries take these traditional styles and brand them as Christmas/Holiday beers. They could take the label off and it would still fit into a traditional style category.

Take Bell’s Christmas Ale for example which is labeled as a Scottish Ale on Beer Advocate. I’ve had it and think it tastes more like an amber, but in no way is it different for Christmas.

I hate to sound too cynical because I really do enjoy the festive branding. It’s a fun time of year and I’m glad beer joins in the party. Just know that just because it’s a winter or Christmas beer doesn’t mean that the beer itself is any different than usual. Brewers need to market like everyone else.


  1. Troegs Mad Elf
  2. Captain Lawrence Nor’ Easter – Winter Warmer


  1. Pisgah Baptista
  2. Highland Brewing Cold Mountain Winter Ale


  1. Founders Breakfast Stout
  2. Great Lakes Christmas Ale


  1. Great Divide Hibernation Ale
  2. Avery Old Jubilation


  1. Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale
  2. Deschutes Jubelale


  1. Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper
  2. Anchor Steam Christmas Ale

Even though winter has just begun you’ve probably seen these beers on the shelf already. I know I’ve been drinking Hibernation for a few months. Overall though, I try to drink the seasonal beers when the season actually arrives.

Call me crazy but seeing people drink pumpkin beer in July really pisses me off.

So now that the real winter season is finally here, let’s celebrate with these great brews and worry about our waistlines when beach season arrives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Christmas Beer and How is it Made?

Christmas beer is a seasonal drink enjoyed during the winter holidays. It is known for its rich, spicy flavors and high alcohol content. The beer incorporates a variety of ingredients like vanilla, coffee beans, cocoa beans, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, mint, and caramel malt.

There are no strict standards for making Christmas beer, but it generally has a high malt base, high alcoholic content, and a fuller body. The tradition of Christmas beer dates back to the Vikings era and has evolved over time.

Today, various brewing companies produce their own versions of Christmas beers, each with unique ingredients and spices.

What are the Different Types of Christmas Beers?

Different styles of beer are used to brew Christmas beers, including Stouts, Porters, Brown Ales, Belgian Ales, and some IPAs.

These beers are known for their robust, complex, and sweet malty flavors, making them popular during the Christmas season.

What are the Best Brands of Christmas Beer?

The article lists several top-rated Christmas beer brands, such as Great Lakes Christmas Ale, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and Anchor Christmas Ale.

These beers are known for their unique flavors, high alcohol content, and seasonal availability.

Craft or Industrial Beer for Christmas?

Craft beer is generally preferred for Christmas beers due to its higher quality, variety of flavors, and the artistry involved in its production. Industrial beers, although available, do not offer the same level of warmth and unique taste that craft beers provide.

Christmas Beer or Winter Seasonal Beers?

Winter beers are traditional styles that are good for the cold season but are not specifically branded as Christmas beers.

However, many breweries take these traditional styles and market them as Christmas or holiday beers. The article suggests that the label doesn’t necessarily make the beer different; it’s more about marketing.

What is the Origin of the Christmas Beer Tradition?

The tradition of Christmas beer can be traced back to the Vikings era, where it was consumed during Scandinavian celebrations called Jul. Over time, this tradition spread to other parts of the world and evolved to include various styles and flavors.

What Ingredients are Commonly Used in a Christmas Ale Recipe?

Common ingredients in a Christmas ale include spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, along with malts and sometimes fruits to create a rich, flavorful brew.

Any Christmas Beer Ideas for Homebrewers?

For those interested in homebrewing, experimenting with winter ale recipes that incorporate spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg can result in a unique Christmas brew.

You can also try making a Christmas IPA recipe with lighter flavors but still incorporating festive spices.

What are the Best Christmas Beers to Try?

Some of the best Christmas beers mentioned in the article include Great Lakes Christmas Ale, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. These beers offer a range of flavors and high alcohol content, making them perfect for the holiday season.

How Does Craft Christmas Beer Differ from Industrial Christmas Beer?

Craft Christmas beers are generally made in smaller batches with high-quality ingredients, offering a unique and rich flavor. Industrial Christmas beers, while available, may not offer the same depth of flavor and are often produced in larger quantities.

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