Winter Solstice 2015 is here. I consider this my favorite winter holiday because this is the holiday that existed before religions and corporations monetized all merry making. Speaking of money, I read today that the Breckenridge Brewery is being bought by A-B InBev, so there famous Scotch ale style Christmas Ale will soon be a part of their vast portfolio, as if the acquisition of SAB Miller and all their other brewery purchases is not enough. But of course it is not. Capitalism has its own twisted logic, which was aptly explained by the late, famous show trial lawyer, F. Lee Bailey, who said: “We live by the golden rule. Those with the gold rule.”

But the creation of new beer continues, despite these business concerns. What better day than this, to review Anderson Valley Brewing Company Winter Solsticewinter_solstice_seasonal_ale

It is a pleasure to see the return of this venerable Holiday ale, now given given additional freshness by being packaged in a can. This subtle wassail, with its vanilla note, is a beautiful reminder that recipes that are truly outstanding are enjoyed as an annual celebration, over several decades. Like its twin seasonal counterpart Summer Solstice, this is unmistakable Boonville beer.

Redhook Brewery who now have some production work performed in Memphis, Tennessee, have released their 31st edition of Winterhookredhook_winterhook
a winter ale with a recipe that changes year to year. This year’s #31 uses rye malt in the kettle, giving this a spicy departure from the more chocolatey versions of years past. The ale is festively good with plenty of malt and hops support.

Another winter edition that has hop heads in mind is New Belgium Accumulation White India Pale Aleaccumulation where Mosaic and Amarillo hops perform their citrus magic. Although this is not exactly my choice for winter beer, this a very well made beer, designed for hop-forward drinkers seeking out aromatic bitterness.

For those who really want to go a-wassailing there is 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale, from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company of Akron, Ohio12-dogs
like Great Lakes and Anchor’s, this wassail is very well made. Very drinkable, with a (strange as it seems) very approachable complexity. An 8.3 % production that easily will enhance the merry making.

Locally, Rhinegeist has produced a collaborative golden stout with the Three Weavers Brewery of California202425 and this PENGUIN is a very fine example of artisan creativity. My only complaints are I wish it was less expensive, and it would come in a six pack of 12 ounce bottles


and to all a Good night!

Holiday/Winter beer has always been one of my favorite obsessions. Part marketing, part alchemy, the truly outstanding recipes have become a holiday tradition in their own right. An annual welcome return.GREAT-DIVIDE-HIBERNATION-ALEIt is always a supreme pleasure to experience, once again, a masterpiece of American brewing. Great Divide Hibernation Ale is such an example. A dry hopped version of English-style Old Ale, this is a beer of uncompromising quality. A very dark amber pour. This winter non-wassail speaks for itself. Enough said.

63_shelf_Insulated-12oz-LR_originalI have always liked the schwarzbier style and Brooklyn Insulated Dark Lager certainly answers the call. Rich in malt flavors it maintains the viscosity associated with this very drinkable style, whether it is Kostritzer, Saranac Black Forest, or Shiner No. 97. This is a welcome addition to the Brooklyn winter portfolio.

Schlafly-Christmas-Ale-1 This is a dark amber pour with a spicy nose that announces that this is an unmistakeable wassail. A very festive (8%) ale indeed. This seems especially designed for beer drinkers who are not afraid of interesting juxtapositions between the malts and spices. There is no doubt: Christmas time is here.


WW 6x0,33l

Known in the United States as Warsteiner Winter Special Edition, this is imported to Warsteiner USA in West Chester, Ohio, which made this a deliciously fresh sample. A German reinheitsgebot contribution to the Winter/Holiday collection. This is an easy drinking, malt showcase lager, brewed with soft water, and given hop and hop extract support. Well worth an exploration or two.

beer_237574A local holiday favorite for the Beer Doctor. This holiday amber has a direct simplicity, further realized in the very pleasant finish. It also reveals how brewing in Cincinnati has evolved in the 21st century.

thundersnowAnother great example of a Cincinnati artisan seasonal. This very dark coloured spiced take on the Scotch Ale style has an unmistakeable flavor profile. A full depth charge of malts and spices reminds me that I no longer live in the 20th century.

shinerholidayThis was a bit of an unorthodox shock when I first sampled this, several years ago.Since then, I have grown to love this holiday dunkelweizen. Mostly because it is living proof that a creative brewery has its own distinctive personality. Peaches and Pecans? Who would have thought? This is both festive and unusual.

beer_95213Another American classic, Bell’s Christmas Ale is a no-nonsense Scotch ale style beer that is perfectly balanced and a perfect delight to drink. A beautiful reminder that there still is much goodness in this world.