The 12 beers of Christmas

By Robyn Black

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer

Christmas beer
Nothing says festive tipple more than a spicy, warming, fruity ale in front of a roaring pub fire, so here’s our pick of some of the seasonal brews on offer this December.So, altogether now, “on the first day of Christmas my publican gave to me (in alphabetical order)…”

One…Baltic Porter (West Brewery)

Baltic Porter

Described as a dark, robust beer with spicy aromatic flavours and a long lasting finish, this 5.0% ABV brew is made with eight types of malt, including several types of Caramel, Roasted Barley and Chocolate Wheat Malt.

“During the past decade porter has experienced a revival, and West is now offering our take on its wintery, sweet flavours – perfect for the festive season,” said a spokeswoman for the Glasgow-based brewery.

Two…Christmas Ale (Shepherd Neame)

Christmas Ale

First launched in 2007 the Kent brewery has revived its Christmas Ale for 2014.

This year’s “vintage” is made with Pale and Crystal malts, combined with Target and Challenger hops for bitterness and a smattering of Goldings for aroma.

Available on draught (5% ABV) and in bottle (7% ABV) until the end of the year, the beer comes with a “Dickensian-style pumpclip and bottle” and is described as being a, “full bodied winter beer with notes of fruit and spices.”

Three…Cinnamon Porter (Meantime Brewing Company)


Part of the London brewer’s Brewer’s Collection, this beer was inspired by the old English tradition of adding spice to beer to keep drinkers warm during the colder months.

It comes in 750ml Champagne-style bottles and is said to have hints of black treacle, raisin, mocha, bitter chocolate, coffee and – of course – cinnamon.

Four…Estrella de Navidad (Estrella Galicia)


This Spanish seasonal brew is a 5.5% ABV malt beer, brewed with Nugget hops, which were grown in the Galicia region.

The beer comes in bottles featuring the greeting, “Happy Christmas” in three languages across the neck. “The beer demonstrates Estrella Galicia’s dedication to development and innovation,” the company said.

Five…Fireside (Greene King)


Made with Challenger, First Gold and Cascade hops, alongside Pale, Crystal and Black Malts, this 4.5% ABV brew is one of two seasonal brews from Greene King (the brewer has also brought back the popular Rockin’ Rudolph ale).

A good match for warming, hearty, meaty dishes with rich, indulgent sauces the beer is described as having: “grapefruit and lemon citrus flavours, with a herbal dry hop background. Sweetness and body comes from the Pale and Crystal malts and the Black Malt adds enough dryness and astringency to keep the beer refreshing.”

Six…Gnarly (Purity Brewing Company)


Just 1,000 Champagne-style bottles of this strong black beer have been released by the Warwickshire brewery.

Named after the extreme sports term, which refers to an exhilarating ride, to reflect that the brew is an “extraordinary drinking experience.”

It is made with Maris Otter, Crystal Rye, Smoked and Black malts, alongside Northern Brewer, Cascade and Chinook hops and aged for six months in whisky casks. A Champagne yeast was also used to give the beer a light carbonation, said MD Paul Halsey.

Seven…Ice Witch (Moorhouse’s Brewery)

One of four festive ales on offer from the Burnley brewer (the others comprise: Santa’s Special, Snow Globe and Ebenezer Ale).

Ice Witch is described as a “festive grist brew” and is made with Maris Otter malt and Citra hops from the US, which are so scarce the brewer was able to make just 500 brewer’s barrels of the beer. “Ice Witch has been brewed for the festivities to offer a slightly tropical tasty alternative to the heavy, dark specials typical of the winter months,” said managing director David Grant.

Eight….Imperial Russian Stout (Sambrook’s)


This brew comes in at a hefty 10.4% ABV and is made with Maris Otter Pale Ale, Crystal, Brown and Chocolate malts, alongside oats, wheat, and Challenger, WGV and Target hops.

“The chocolate, toasted and coffee flavours from the roasted malts balance perfectly with some ripe fruity aromas. We think this stout is a winner and we hope you'll agree,” said a spokeswoman.

Nine…..Nadelik (Sharp’s Brewery)


The unusual name for this beer comes from the Cornish word for Christmas.

It’s the third year for the seasonal brew, following huge success last year in particular, said director of brewing Stuart Howe.

The 4.8% ale is made with coloured malts and roasted barley to give the beer a full, rich taste without being too sweet.

“Nadelik provides drinkers with a host of flavours that will remind them of all the best things about winter and Christmas,” Howe said. “It has a pleasant warming and bittersweet finish, leaving a lingering delicate bitterness.”

Ten….Rosey Nosey (Batemans)


A stronger version (6% ABV versus the usual 4.9% ABV) of this seasonal tipple is particularly popular with US soldiers, so much so that Batemans has already shipped 120 barrels to US air force bases across the globe, including Korea and Japan.

Back in the UK the dark amber ale - made with Pale, Crystal and Chocolate Norfolk malts and Challenger and Goldings hops - is available for just one week in December, fuelling demand.

“Rosey Nosey is one of the most popular festive beers on the market, and has achieved an iconic status amongst our customers, with many saying it doesn’t feel like Christmas until they’ve enjoyed their first pint of the ale,” said marketing director Jaclyn Bateman.

Eleven…Shepherds Watch (Wold Top Brewery)

This Christmas brew comes with seasonal beanies and t-shirts to help everyone get into the festive mood.

The beer is a 6% ABV ale made with roasted barley, pale chocolate malt and a combination of Progress, Styrian Goldings and Cascade hops and is said to, “retain a 'perfectly balanced' bitterness with a soft spicy, yet fruity edge.”

It is said to be a great match for fruit cake and mince pies.

Twelve…Sleighbell (Everards)


Back for a 12th​ year, this time Sleighbell has a new look to excite festive revellers.

“Customers can now expect to see our cheeky reindeer wearing his sleigh bells, ready to bring the joy of Christmas to the bar,” said a brewery spokesman.

The 4.5% ABV ruby red ale is brewed with Cascade hops for a “flavoursome” pint, which is described as “rich and comforting with a distinctive winey taste and spicy berry aroma.”

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