I sure do love “Top 10” lists – especially top 10 lists that pertain to beer. So when I found two of them today, I was pretty thrilled. The first, from Denver’s Westword.com, is a list of “10 Holiday Beers to Help you Forget 2008” (don’t we all need that!) compiled by Jonathan Shikes. The ten beers on the list are:

  1. Alaskan Winter Ale
  2. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  3. Odell Isolation Ale
  4. Fort Collins Big Shot Seasonal Ale
  5. Alaskan Smoked Porter (side note: I’ll be having my first bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter this New Year’s Eve and I am VERY excited about it!)
  6. Left Hand Brewing’s Snowbound Ale
  7. Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper
  8. Bristol Brewing’s Winter Warlock
  9. Stone Double BastardSanta beer
  10. Anchor Christmas Ale

Along with the Westword.com article are links to Shikes’ personal reviews of each beer; check them out,  they’re pretty fun.

The second Top 10 list was actually from npr.org and was complied by Don Russell — better known as “Joe Sixpack” — so I knew ahead of time it had to be good. Russell’s list includes:

  1. Smuttynose Winter Ale (New Hampshire)
  2. Stille Nacht (Belgium)
  3. Troegs Mad Elf (Pennsylvania)
  4. Mahr’s Christmas Bock (Germany)
  5. Anchor Our Special Ale (California)
  6. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome (England)
  7. Anderson Valley Winter Solstice (California)
  8. Baladin Noel (Italy)
  9. Samichlaus (Austria)
  10. Gouden Carolus Noel (Belgium)

The accompanying NPR article had some fun little background information on Christmas Ales/Winter Warmers — such as, “For millennia, [Russell] says, farmers around the globe marked the winter solstice by brewing particularly potent beer, heavy with fruit and grain” — and Russell himself as well, and is definitely worth the read.

Of the twenty beers listed above, which are your favorite (or least favorite) beers for the holidays?



  1. Who doesn’t like a good top ten list? Always a crowd pleaser, especially when it is a beer list! The only one I didn’t agree with was on the westword list @ #2, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I’ve only had this once and I was not impressed. Maybe it’s time to give it another shot. 

  2. I have to disagree with you on that one Ben. Without a doubt, the Sierra Nevada is my favorite for this particular season… I love the hoppy, strong flavor that really packs a punch (with all the snow in the NorthWest this year, it’s badly needed!).

    Plenty of others in the list I have not yet tried – more work for me in early 2009 I think!

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