Black Christmas, St Bernardus Christmas ale, Shepherd Neame Christmas ale, Southwold Christmas ale and Glhkriek.
Christmas ale, Shepherd Neame
(20 for 5x500ml, Shepherd Neame)
One for real ale enthusiasts. British hops lend this beer an earthy body thats a welcome break from the sweet fruitiness of a lot of Christmas beer. There is a little spiciness and a touch of sweet candy and raisin, but nothing overpowering and nothing youd object to if you drank it by the pint, or used it to wash down roast potatoes.
Southwold Christmas ale, Adnams for Marks and Spencer
(2.20 for 500ml or 20 for a 5-litre keg, Marks and Spencer)
Adnams ale is usually evocative of summers spent at its seaside brewery and warm afternoons eating fish and chips on the shore. But its Christmas ale available, to my intense delight, in a DIY keg is its wintry, fireside twin. Pouring a mahogany brown, this is a festive beer for drinkers who want to get as far away from nutmeg and dried cherry flavours as possible: it is toasty, caramel and toffee-ish, with all the depth of the brewerys distinctive yeast.
Black Christmas, Weird Beard
(2.55 for 330ml, Beer Gonzo)
Fabulously bitter, this cranberry stout is a great refresher to enjoy at the end of a long night of sweet wine and port. It pours jet black with a thick head and smells like coffee, nuts, chocolates and vanilla. So far, so stout, which means that the taste almost burned, like cocoa nibs and espresso is a welcome surprise. This beer is not as creamy as you might expect and any sweetness comes from the tart cranberries it has been brewed with.
Christmas ale, St Bernardus
(4.50 for 330ml, Beer Gonzo)
With its soft banana and herb notes, this offering from the famous St Bernardus brewery in Belgium is one for fans of wheat beers. It is punchy and strong at 10% ABV. Factor in the cloves and Christmas spices it is laced with and this will keep you positively toasty this winter.
(7.75 for 750ml, Beer Gonzo)
Mulled beer sounds like the kind of bad idea you might have at the end of a raucous Christmas party. In fact, this warmable cherry beer is an absolute world-beater. Heat it gently, as you would wine and it gives off the most overwhelming rich cherry, spice and marzipan aroma. Like mulled wine it tastes best glugged from a mug all sweet fruit and cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but with none of the spice detritus to deal with at the end. Dont try to drink this cold, and its probably best not try mulling any other beers you have lying around.
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