The holiday hustle is upon us, perhaps you are done shopping. Perhaps you haven’t started, or maybe you are not even going to bother. I’m a late starter myself, and when I finally start to plan my attack through the stresses of the crowed aisles and holiday traffic I find settling down with a great brew is just the right approach.
If you read my blog, you know that I’m a fan of all types of beer from all over the world. However, in Vermont we are very lucky to have so much fantastic beer. New breweries are opening all the time, so the quality and variety of available beer should continue to grow. Our great state is home to more breweries per-capita than any other. Quite simply, we know beer. So if you enjoy a great beer, or are still searching for some stocking stuffers pull out the notepad as I suggest to you my twelve beers of Christmas, all from the 802.
12. Switchback | Porter – Everyone is familiar with their flagship ale. This season I encourage you to try the porter available on draught only at your local watering hole. Well balanced, great body, and a perfect way to start your holidays. You will recognize the taste, similar to the pale ale but with a huge hit of roasted goodness.
11. Harpoon | Chocolate Stout – Available in the winter variety pack this tasty treat will quench your thirst and your sweet tooth. Pours thick, nearly black, with very little head this is a great sipper on a snowy night at home by the fire. Let it sit a bit, when it’s too cold the chocolate flavor is not as bold.
10. Rock Art | Ridge Runner – An all-time favorite of mine. Good all year but great during the winter. This barley-wine style ale is nearly 8% ABV and goes a long way to warming you up on a cold night. The perfect brew after a day on the mountain, find this on draught or in bottles, available year round.
9. Shed | Mountain Ale – This tasty brew, only recently available in bottles thanks to the acquisition of the brewery by Otter Creek in Middlebury. This is the original recipe of the beer you grew up loving on the mountain road in Stowe. This beer doesn’t really fit a true style, but it is very good nonetheless proving not all beer needs to follow the rules. Find this on draught or in bottles year round.
8. Vermont Pub & Brewery | Mick’s Irish Stout – Downtown shopping can be grueling, so when you finish up head over to Vermont’s oldest craft brewery and enjoy one of their tasty beers. This one is one of my “go-to” beverages; however, they have a variety of great beer. Check out their experimental series as well. How does a marshmallow chocolate stout sound? Ho Ho Ho!
7. Fiddlehead | IPA – This new brewery is making waves, this is the flagship beer in the lineup. A really nice IPA, very hop forward and tastes appropriately for this column, like Christmas. Find this on draught locally or pick up a growler at the brewery on Shelburne RD.
6. Harpoon | El Triunfo Coffee Porter – This is #44 in the 100 Barrel Series from Harpoon, available now for a limited time in bombers (22oz bottles). This is only 6% so it is easy drinking. Has a heavy coffee smell and flavor nicely balanced with hints of bitter chocolate. This is great for the coffee lover on your list.
5. Long Trail | Imperial Porter- This beauty is available for a limited time only in 22oz bottles, and occasionally on draught if you are lucky. A true delight to drink; the imperial porter is strong, dark, and full of flavor. Nearly all of the Brewmaster’s Reserve series from Long Trail are fantastic. Seek them out, you won’t be disappointed.
4. Magic Hat | Heart of Darkness – So psyched that this has made a triumphant return to the Magic Hat winterland pack. Also find it on draught and in twelve and six packs for the winter. A delightful oatmeal stout, an older recipe they brought back and I’m glad they did. I think you will be as well. Give it a shot, I love this beer.
3. Otter Creek | Russian Imperial Stout – Another back from retirement, this big beer comes in over 10% and is not to be missed. Available in 4 packs for a limited time only, likely on draught as well in some fine establishments. This is a beer that will warm you from the inside out. One or two is all you will need to combat the coldest of winter nights.
2. The Alchemist | Heady Topper – Perfect for any occasion, this world class brew is available in cans only (4 pack). This Double IPA is considered by many in the beer community to be the best example of the style. Act fast, it sells out quick and is for now only distributed in our great state. It is a true local treat.
1. Hill Farmstead | Twilight of the Idols – This is my favorite beer right now. A gorgeous winter porter brewed with coffee and cinnamon, aged on vanilla beans. Words can’t describe just how delicious this beer is. It’s not easy to get since his beer is only available at the brewery in Greensboro, VT but if you are lucky enough to get a bottle or find it on draught you won’t be disappointed. Pour this in your favorite glassware and sit by the fire or the tree and share with a loved one; you will be glad you did.
So what is your favorite beer to celebrate the holidays and the Vermont winter?
Until next time, cheers!