5 Hopsy Holiday Brews

What's a holiday without a festive adult beverage... or five? Last year I wrote about three of my favourite wines, but this year I thought I'd venture into the world of beer, a drink I enjoy quite often, yet rarely talk about for some reason. Some breweries release special edition holiday/winter brews this time of year, which makes it a perfect topic for the 12 Days of Christmas and an even better excuse to indulge in a taste test with my favourite beer-drinking companion.

It was an unfortunate decision on our part to drink many of these (plus a few that didn't make the cut) in a single evening, as holiday brews tend to be extremely rich stouts and porters, and thus had us feeling pretty sick to our stomachs by the fourth pint. This no doubt affected our ratings, so I've listed them in the order they were drank. Also, keep in mind that I am much more of  a summertime blonde and blanche type of girl, so you will notice this reflected in my ratings as well. If you've had a chance to taste any of these beers or have another holiday favourite, I'd love to hear your opinions in the comment below.


1. Great Lakes Winter Ale ~ Ontario, OCB
6.2% alcohol 750mL ~purchased from LCBO
A slightly hoppy, dark copper ale with a spiced tongue and malty finish. We felt it went especially well, if not better, with food.
Erin: 7/10 Mike: 8/10

2.  Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout ~ Ontario, OCB
8% alcohol, 750ML ~purchased from The Brain
A nice, rich berry front with a very dry, dark chocolate finish. One bottle is plenty for two and it goes down even smoother with a delicious cheese platter from The Brain. Bonus points for the awesome bearded label!
Erin: 5/10 Mike: 7/10

3. Ayinger Celebrator  ~ Germany
6.7% alcohol, 350mL ~purchased from The Brain
Aside from my glee over the fact that this beer came with a necklace, we both found it overly malty and oddly reminiscent of prune juice, albeit with orange notes. It starts off unique, but ends up tiresome. Keep in mind this review followed a cheese plate and the rich double chocolate stout...
Erin: 4/10 Mike: 4/10

4. Samuel Adams Winter Lager ~ USA
5.5% alcohol ~purchased on tap from The Ship
This copper-coloured lager is the clear winner, with a nicely balanced malty front, light hops, and distinct flavours of cloves and oranges. Between the two of us and the sweet bartender, it was agreed, "It just tastes like Christmas!"
Erin: 8/10 Mike: 9/10

5. Wychwood Bah Humbug Christmas Cheer Ale ~ England
5% alcohol, 500mL ~purchased from LCBO
We had high hopes for this one, after falling in love with it a few Christmases ago, but we were disappointed to find it had lost the strong cinnamon and spice notes we had remembered. It is an amber ale with a slightly caramelly malt front, lightly spiced, very mildly hopped, and smooth, but a little bland for a holiday brew.
Erin: 6/10 Mike: 6/10

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