8 (mostly) fascinating facts about Christmas beers

8 (mostly) fascinating facts about Christmas beers

8 (mostly) fascinating facts about Christmas beers

The festive season wouldn't be complete with a range of bewilderingly strong, spicy Christmas ales on offer. But before we disregard them as another marketing ploy, a brief glance at the history demonstrates that today's beers can trace a lineage at least back until medieval times, as we discover below. Here are eight facts about Christmas ales to bore your relatives with over the Christmas dinner table. 

1/ They’re strong. Christmas ales tend to come in between 5-14%! Definitely beers for the cold winter evenings. 

2/ They’re medieval! An example of a Christmas ale in medieval times was ‘lambswool’, a frankly fantastic-sounding beer made from roasted apples, nutmeg, ginger and sugar. The name comes from the froth on the top.

3/ They can be heated. Mulled wine, of course, is a Christmas staple. Beer too, usually an Old Ale style, can also be mulled with spices, orange, cumin and honey for a cockle-warming drink while carolling. 

4/ There’s no defined style. There’s nothing really that defines a Christmas ale. We stock a Plum Pudding Porter from Wiper And True – as delicious as it sounds! And a Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream Stout from Thornbridge. If there is anything that tends to bind Christmas Ales it’s spices and dark stone fruit notes in a reasonably dark, strong ale.

5/ Belgians love them too. The Belgians are BIG on Christmas beer, with most traditional breweries making a festive special. Leffe Christmas comes in a heartening 750ml Champagne-style bottle and feels like a real celebration. Also try Abbaye des Rocs Speciale Noel, a 9% beauty of a beer, and St Feuillien equally strong Cuvee Noel. The St Bernardus Christmas Ale is probably the best Christmas ale of all time.

6/ They’re great for a name… We love puns, and brewers like them almost as much as hairdressing salons. How about these: To Øl’s Santastique or Black Bauble, Ilkley’s Mary Christmas (a Christmas version of Mary Jane),

7/ … there’s also a preponderance for sweary names. How about: To Øl's Santa Gose F&%" It All and F*ck Art Winter is Coming, as well as the brilliantly-monikered F*ck the Christmas Tree is on Fire!!! by Het Uiltje

8/ It's an excuse for Anchor's Christmas Ale. The San Francisco brewery has released a Christmas Ale for the last 44 years. 2018 Christmas Ale has varying speciality malts, lending rich flavours of brûléed sugars, holiday spices and freshly baked banana bread with a velvety finish. And a fact within a fact: each bottle has a drawing of a different tree by the artist Jim Stitt. Mr Sitt is, let's say, ripe in age, so he has drawn the labels for the next few years according to staff on a brewery tour!