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The Beer Diaries

Holiday Guide

If it’s beer you’re choosing to help enjoy and/or endure serious familial interfacing come the high holiday season, we’ve got a few helpful suggestions for you. First hint – brewers tend to up the octane at the first sign of waning temperatures. Just sayin’.


What's Inside

Here are the beers in this guide. Click a link below to read the full beer review.

  • Moylan’s White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager

    Reviewed by on December 24, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Moylans White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager-landscape

    The winter holiday seasonal from Moylan’s, which purports to be a dark lager, well-dosed with a litany of spices, including, interestingly, mace, as well as a sort of witbier twist.  Always a bit weird to see a Christmas offering from the Golden State, but since they have a stellar record of making good beer, I’m […]

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  • Huyghe Delirium Noël

    Reviewed by on December 23, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Huyghe Delirium Noël-landscape

    Christmas time, Christmas beer. Easy choice, encased in a shiny foil capped faux-ceramic bottle, with Santa leading a team of pink elephants on a spacey (in more than one way) flight away from Earth.  The label for this offering also varies from market to market between ‘Delirium Christmas’, and the native French ‘Delirium Noël’. This […]

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  • Evil Twin Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room

    Reviewed by on December 5, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Evil Twin Christmas Eve

    The name of this beer is somewhat intriguing, as it suggests exhilaration and mild depression, two conflicting emotions on an already heightened  rollercoaster of seasonal to and fro. At first pop of the cap of this 330ml bottle, I stupidly assumed this would be like any other imperial stout out there, and sit there quietly […]

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  • Ticinese Bad Attitude Rudolph

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Bad Attitude Rudolph

    A nice way to finish this western Canadian, central-Europe beer-sourced Craft Beer Advent calendar ordeal off, what with a rabid-appearing cartoon reindeer greeting me first thing on Christmas Eve morn, and now again right after a shortened work day. This 330m stubby bottle pours a hazy dark bronzed amber hue, with two fingers of densely […]

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  • Brùton St. Renna

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Bruton St. Renna

    Here we have an upstart Italian microbrewery, from a region between Florence and Pisa, and their Christmas Ale, it would seem, produced with honey and unspecified spices. The name is likely a play on the Italian word for gift (strenna), and the the word for reindeer (renna), as the sub-title is ‘la birra delle renne’, […]

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  • Trappistes Rochefort 8

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Rochefort 8 Christmas

    A sturdy Belgian-style bomber of this purported nectar of the gods, replete with a hearty image of Santa Claus beaming from the otherwise standard label.  It sure is nice to be able to try these Trappist offerings without an indeterminate trip to the brewery itself, eh? This 750ml bottle pours a cloudy, very dark golden […]

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  • X-Mas Hop

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    De Molen X-Mas Hop

    A De Molen product that has apparently been shipped to Canada as part of a Craft Beer Advent calendar.  Wow, a label from this brewery that I don’t need Google Translate in order to figure out. Huh. This 330ml bottle pours a hazy, muddled dark golden hue, with three fingers of puffy, foamy, and bulbous […]

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  • Fort Garry St. Nick’s Oaked Spiced Porter

    Reviewed by on December 4, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Ft. Garry St. Nick's Oaked Spiced Porter

    Hot on the heels of the big fat guy’s arrival here in the great white north, as well as everywhere else on the planet, apparently, comes the latest in this brewery’s Brewmaster Series. Spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice, and then aged on oak chips. How homebrew-friendly! And SPICEtastically OAKstravagant! (That’s a label thing.) This […]

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  • The Bruery 5 Golden Rings

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    The Bruery 5 Golden Rings

    Part 5 of a very cool idea for a decade-plus spanning holiday release series. Made with pineapple juice and the cake-friendly spices of cinnamon, allspice and ginger. This 750ml bottle pours a hazy, solid medium golden amber hue, with three fingers of foamy, puffy off-white head, which leaves some broad, random specks of spattered lace […]

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  • Pike Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Pike Auld Acquaintance

    Auld Acquaintance is Pike’s holiday ale, made with additions of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The label reminds me of a now-tired Denis Leary rant about Santa Claus not being on the list of acceptable images to be on his beer bottle. This 650ml bottle pours a slightly hazy, medium copper colour, with one […]

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  • Baird Jubilation Ale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Baird Jubilation Ale

    A celebratory tipple, I assume, for the winter season, one from which we here in certain parts of North America have been experiencing a mite bit longer than this has been available. This 633ml bottle pours a hazy dark burnt amber colour, with two fingers of creamy, bubbly off-white head, which leaves a low seaward […]

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  • Deschutes Jubelale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Deschutes Jubelale

    Deschutes Brewery puts this winter ale out in the late fall Pacific NW time, with updated label artwork every year. The 25th anniversary bottle depicts a group of (presumably) caroling musicians gathered around a glowing, sunflower-esque street lamp. This 12oz bottle pours a clear, rusty orange brick hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, somewhat […]

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  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2012

    Reviewed by on December 3, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

    Sierra Nevada has been making this an annual winter offering since 1981, using the first fresh hops of the attendant growing season, in order to convey the big pine and citrus notes that west coast American IPAs have become renowned for, and, I suppose, to reflect two of the strongest Yuletide essences, at least to […]

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  • Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater

    Reviewed by on December 2, 2013 in Holiday Guide
    Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater

    Arriving in a 341ml bottle this is just an awesome idea for a Christmas-themed offering – the label appears to be a hillbilly Conan O’Brien, resplendent in his worst holiday pullover. This beer pours a deep, dark, darned-near black hue, with sexy ruby cola highlights when duly back-lit, and two solid fingers of broadly bubbly, […]

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  • Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin' Christmas

    A 330ml bottle, with some weird reindeer feeding time artwork on the label. Made with ginger and pine spruce tips. This beer pours a mostly clear, medium golden yellow hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, somewhat creamy off-white head, which leaves a decent array of specked painted lace around the glass as it slowly […]

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  • St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

    This appears to be along the lines of this brewery’s ABT 12 offering, but gussied up even further with some nice seasonal spices. An imposing, yet lovingly festive 750ml bottle. The beer itself pours a muddy, sediment-strewn orangish brown hue, with one finger of thickly foamy, soapy beige head, which leaves some sparse specks of […]

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  • Thiriez Biere De Noel

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Thiriez Biere de Noel

    If you do a bit of searching you’ll discover a number of Bieres De Noel from a variety of breweries. This particular version was made by Brasserie Thirez, a French brewery located in a region of Flanders located a few miles from Belgium. A unique version is produced each year, so let’s discuss 2012’s edition. […]

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  • Wychwood Bah Humbug

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Wychwood Bah Humbug

    A relatively long-standing Christmas offering from this Oxfordshire brewery. Nice label – the Dickensian yuletide imagery is pretty spot-on. This beer pours an attractive medium amber hue, with two fingers of creamy, puffy off-white head, which leaves some thin webbed lace in its slowly-receding wake. It smells of biscuit and caramel malt, and a very […]

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  • Ducato Krampus

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Ducato Krampus

    This seasonal offering comes to us in a 750ml squat sparkling Champagne-esque bottle. Strange devil/saint dualism imagery on the front label. How is this Christmas/Holiday-related, you might be wondering? Well, the back label, in Italian, tells the story of the European alpine region legend of a demonic anti-Santa character (the Krampus), who roams the streets […]

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  • Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper 2012

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper

    A lovely Christmas wrapping paper striped label, on a 750ml red foil capped bottle, gives more than a simple clues as to what we are in for here. Mikkeller has produced this particular offering for a few years now, slightly altering the recipe from year to year. The current offering boasts Northern Brewer, Hallertau, and […]

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  • Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Rogue Santa

    A prototypical 22oz bottle, the label replete with a hefty stein-hoisting Ol’ Saint Nick, striking the pose of all of Rogue’s marketing images, that of a raised-fist, ‘power to the people’ thing. With its additional white snowflakes, the whole thing glows in the dark, just as the ‘Snowflakes Glisten’ proclamation indicates. Rather kitschy, and cool […]

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  • Mikkeller Fra Til Via (From To Via)

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Mikkeller-Fra-Til-Via

    This beer comes to us in a 750ml gold-foil capped bottle, apparently a new version for this year. The label is essentially a reproduction of those tiny to/from stickers everybody uses for Christmas gifts. This beer pours a rather aggressively foamy nature, of the dense bubbly mocha sort, with an underlying solid black hue, and […]

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  • Mikkeller Red/White Christmas Ale

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Mikkeller Red/White

    This hoppy, spiced ale comes in a rather impressive 1.5L bottle, with some nice red and white (of course) snowfall imagery on the label. The ‘red’ and ‘white’ of the name refer to the blending of an English-style red ale, with a Belgian-style white beer. Another interesting pairing for this nomadic Danish brewer. What we […]

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  • De Ranke Pere Noel

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    De Ranke Pere Noel

    This is an interesting entry as a holiday or Christmas ale as it doesn’t follow the usual characteristics of being big, malty and sweet and instead fairly closely follows the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style. These are sometimes also called Golden Ales, due to their appearance, but don’t be fooled; they can be powerful and […]

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  • La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux

    As far as I can tell this is a holiday beer since the character on the bottle is wearing the uniform of one of Santa’s Elves; he’s also giving my logo a bit of an eye, so I’m not sure what to think. In spite of this I still drank the beer. It’s classified as […]

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  • Gouden Carolus Christmas

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Gouden Carolus Christmas

    Het Anker has reportedly been operating since the mid-15th century. It has gone through multiple owners over the year and continues to produce delicious beers. Their Gouden Carolus Classic, another Belgian Strong Dark Ale, is a veritable classic in the beer world. Their holiday release, the Gouden Carolus Christmas is classified as a Belgian Strong […]

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  • Anchor Brewing Merry Christmas Happy New Year 2012

    Reviewed by on in Holiday Guide
    Anchor Christmas 2012

    Every year Anchor comes up with a new Holiday beer with a different combination of spices and flavors. Additionally, for you arborists out there, the bottle features a unique image of a coniferous tree. Enough academics, let’s discuss the beer. This beer is a spiced ale (another technical name is Winter Warmer); typically these are […]

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