Seasonal Greetings to you, Dallas! I say “seasonal” because Christmas brings more than presents under the tree, it also means seasonal offerings from craft brewers around the world. I’m going to highlight a few holiday and winter beers for you in different formats: one is a very large bottle good for parties, two are great beers you can only get in a restaurant, and the other three are bottles small enough to enjoy yourself or give away as gifts.
The beers I’m choosing have different taste profiles but all help make you feel a bit nicer on a cold winter day. I’ve personally tried all of the beers listed here and had them right here in Dallas – if you need help finding one, place a comment and I’ll do my best to respond.
Anchor Christmas Ale Large Format (1.5 litre) craft beer for Sharing
This delicious Winter Warmer is made for gatherings in it’s large 1.5 litre bottle and tasteful holiday decorated label. This is a malty, dark, spicy ale best enjoyed with friends. Each year, Anchor Brewing selects a different tree to display on the label for this seasonal beer. For 2011, Anchor selected the bristlecone pine to signify the “dawn of the ancient art of brewing.” Go pick some up at Dallas Spec’s or other local beer shops. Beer Advocate: 87 (public)
Deep Ellum Brewing Company Festivus Enjoy this Dallas original craft beer at local establishments
DEBC’s Festivus started as a technical error but grew into a delicious Black IPA with a nice, smooth finish. DEBC just held their Grand Opening last weekend and is a welcome addition to craft beer as it paves the way for a thriving Dallas brewery scene. Find Festivus over the next few weeks in limited quantities at local bars like The Holy Grail Pub, The Common Table, Trinity Hall or Strangeways.
Grand Cru Enjoy this fine beerpub craft brew while out on the town in Dallas
This is for going and enjoying as you can’t purchase this beer in bottles or take it with you. Once a year, BJ’s brews up their Grand Cru and serves it in very special glasses. This is a Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale only available once a year and once it’s gone, you’ll yearn for it’s return. I will warn you, this special brew weighs in at around 10% abv (about twice the alcohol in a Bud Light), so drink responsibly! Pair it with the spicy meatloaf – I promise, it’s a killer combo. See if Jeff, Matt or George are behind the bar if you go to the Addison location.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Drink this beer & Gift it to others
Sierra Nevada consistently brews many wonderful beers and the Celebration Ale is an IPA incredibly drinkable (especially for the hop-heads out there) with hoppy bitterness and a wonderful caramel/toffee malt flavor to balance it well. This is the “tamest” of the beers on my list at 6.8%. Beer Advocate: 93 (public), 96 (the bros)
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale Drink this beer & Gift it to others
I love the St. Bernardus 12 all year (including winter) anyway, but this Belgian style Christmas ale (more malty, great for cold weather) is velvety smooth on the tongue and still has the sublimely understated “winter spice” you want in a holiday beer. St. Bernardus beers have been brewed at the St Bernardus brewery in Belgium since 1946. This brew also weighs in at a hefty 10%, so again be careful while you enjoy the spices and dark fruits mixed with high carbonation. Beer Advocate: 92 (public), 90 (the bros)
Rahr & Sons Bourbon Aged Winter Warmer Drink this beer & Gift it to others
Support DFW Breweries! Go buy this beer! Rahr takes the delicious Winter Warmer and then ages it in bourbon barrels to add that nice woody, bourbon character that absolutely defines winter beers to my palate. I know they have a few of these at Spec’s as I was there this afternoon (Justin Cody, the beer buyer for Spec’s, is doing a fantastic job overseeing the beer department during the opening). This is a dark brown with a bit of red in it, almost no head, and tons of great scents and tastes with coffee, caramel, chocolate and only a slight bit of bourbon coming off. Very drinkable at 8.5% and well-named to warm you up this winter. Beer Advocate: 91 (public)
I had trouble picking beers because there are so many great winter craft brews so I went with some solid variety and highlighted some area brews. I would still like to through out some honorable mentions to other good brews this time of year like Black Ops, Delirium Noel, Affligem Noel, Young’s Winter Warmer and Avery’s Old Jubilation.
Best Bets for bottles: Kegs & Barrels (Plano), Lonestar Beverages (Carrollton), Spec’s (Dallas), Mr. G’s (Plano) or area Whole Foods and Central Market.
BJ’s: 3 North Dallas locations – Addison (on Beltline), Plano (off of 75) and Lewisville (off of I-35).
Deep Ellum Brewing Company: 2821 St Louis St, Dallas
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company: 701 Galveston Ave, Fort Worth
Tait Lifto is a freelance beer blogger, photographer and craft beer enthusiast right here in Dallas.