It’s Christmas Eve. You’ve got beer on your mind….
Scenario One: You’ve got your craft beer haul under the stairs for the holidays but what will you give your slightly less adventurous guests and visitors?
Scenario Two: You are new to beer and were overwhelmed by the choice of amazing brews and because you couldn’t decide you ended up with nothing.
Scenario Three: You are a person on the verge of branching out in the direction of more interesting beers but you’ve left it too late to put in an order with Beer Ritz or The Bottle Shop (yep, that’s where I get many of mine)…
Whether it is one or none of the above you need to know what beers you can rush out and panic buy at the last minute to make sure your Christmas beer experience is as bright and sparkling as your tree or as rich and tasty as your turkey dinner. Worry ye not here’s my quick guide…
Although supermarkets can be hit and miss – and it’s better to support independent retailers when we can – there are many good beers to be had if you give it a try. Here’s a few seasonal/festive options for you.
Adnams Broadside (6.3% ABV) This premium bitter is a dark, malt-rich fruity delight. Great at any time of year, it definitely has a more than a hint of the season about it. Available from the likes of Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
Daniel Thwaites Tavern Porter (4.7% ABV)A drop of dark delight that pairs well with cheeses, especially Vintage Gouda. Look for this in Morrisons.
Something from Schneider Weisse either their Tap 7 Original (5.4% ABV), a classic Bavarian wheat beer with gorgeous aromas of bananas and cloves carrying through to the taste and fitting in well with the festive season, or a bit richer, and a lot stronger, like their Aventinus (8.2%ABV) a darker, fruity wheat beer. Failing that look out for Erdinger Weissbier (5.3% ABV) or Erdinger Dark (also 5.3% ABV). Again I have seen all of these on the shelves of Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – and they are worthy beers to drink at this time of the year.
Goose Island IPA (5.9% ABV ) – IPA may not seem the most Christmassy of beers but just think of all those spicy, festive hops! Anyway, it’s one of my favourites so I’ll be getting a few bottles in for Yule. Look for it in Sainsbury’s.
Brooklyn Brewery Lager (5.2% ABV) – this amber coloured lager, made in the ‘Vienna style’, is a crisp refreshing beer with a good hoppy bite. If you are having friends or relatives round over the holidays it’s a great all round brew and a good one for introducing the hitherto unadventurous into the wider world of beer. Bitter drinkers will also appreciate it. Widely available.
Brains Dark (4.1% ABV) This dark, mild from Cardiff’s S.A. Brains is a wonderful, chocolatey but easy-drinking brew that begs to be drunk during the darkest part of the year but also as a celebration of the coming light. Sometimes stocked by Lidl and in Tesco (along with many of their other beers) in Wales.
Fullers London Porter (% ABV) might be a little harder to find than the above but is available in some branches of Waitrose. A little less chocolatey than the keg version you might have quaffed in some of their pubs but no less worth looking for.
So, there’s 10 suggestions that with a little luck you could dash out RIGHT NOW and stock up on in time for Christmas Day and, of course, New Year’s Eve. Or spend a little time in the ale aisle and make some discoveries of your own – just avoid anything in a clear glass bottle as even at this time of year it may suffer from being what is known as ‘light struck’ and therefore taste like an armpit in August. Also be aware that in many supermarkets you’ll find British beers are separated from the imports… so don’t forget to look on the other side of the aisle or elsewhere in the beer section as these sections often contain some gems.
It’s also worth calling or visiting your local independent wine shop as many of these also stock some amazing beers from the UK and overseas. I’ve certainly bagged some great brews from Whistle Wines in Exeter and North Coast Wines in Bude and then there’s Stirchley Wines near Birmingham – which although I’ve not been to I have heard good things about and seem to stock an incredible range. Last but not least, if you live near a brewery you may find they have a shop or some other means of selling direct to the public. Call them up and see if they are still open.
Whatever you’re drinking this festive season – enjoy your brews and have a very merry Yule!