It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Because Christmas beer. Here are five of my favorites brewed in Northeast Ohio.
Holly Jolly Christmas Ale (Fat Head’s Brewery)
“Sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice,” with 7.5% ABV and 28 IBU. Some people enjoy the brewery’s Pimp My Sleigh (10.5% ABV, 30 IBU), but the Holly Jolly is my go-to from Fat Head’s this time of year.
Wenceslas (Willoughby Brewing Co.)
Stop by the downtown Willoughby brewery to grab a pint of the Christmas spiced ale, “a strong, brown ale with rich malt character to which we add an assortment of seasonal spices.” If you’re filling a growler, you’ll probably want to find someone to split it with you (which, c’mon, won’t be that hard); it clocks in at 8% ABV and 20 IBU.
12 Dogs of Christmas Ale (Thirsty Dog Brewing Company)
Some Northeast Ohioans feel VERY STRONGLY that this Christmas ale is better than the one brewed 40 miles north. For me, it differs from year to year and batch to batch, but I love both. The beer — at 8.4% ABV and 21.5 IBU — features “generous amounts of toasted and caramel malts, mixed with equally generous amounts of honey, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.”
Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Co.)
It’s the ol’ standard around Northeast Ohio, and for good reason. The “fresh honey, cinnamon and ginger flavors” are a delicious combination in this 7.5% ABV, 30 IBU brew. There seems to be some sort of rivalry between drinkers of GLBC Christmas Ale and 12 Dogs, but I will happily take a pint of either.
Frosted Frog Christmas Ale (Hoppin’ Frog)
“The essence of Christmas is captured in this very bottle,” Hoppin’ Frog says on its website, and I wholeheartedly agree. This Christmas ale is just so lovely, at 8.6% ABV and 12 IBU. If you’re looking for a Christmas ale with a bit more, the Akron brewery also offers the Barrel Aged Frosted Frog Christmas Ale.
Cheryl Sadler is toasting to the holiday season. Follow her on Twitter @sadlercheryl.