Merry Christmas from Pikes Pub. I hope you are having a great holiday with loved ones.
Now let's get to the beer.
The holidays are a special time for so many people around the world, regardless of religion, and they're also a special time for lovers of craft beer. It's that time of year when many brewers roll out their spiciest, most robust and strongest beers. Josh Adamski, manager of craft beer tavern Brewer's Republic, last week had seven such beers on tap, from tamer winter seasonals such as Odell Isolation Ale to huge Belgian beers with alcohol content as high as 10 percent.
Adamski prefers the latter.
"It warms you up," he said. "You have one or two pints, one or two glasses, and you're good to go."
Here are 12 winter and Christmas beers from around the world, available in Colorado, to spice up your holiday with a little liquid cheer.
- Accumulation White IPA: India pale ales aren't normally winter beers, but New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins says that's the point. The brewery calls this "a direct revolt to the long-standing tradition of brewing dark beers for winter." It's a nice change, with an IPA that won't turn away non-hop freaks. Its alcohol content is 6.2 percent and it's available in many liquor stores.
- Breckenridge Christmas Ale: Breckenridge Brewery makes a rich winter offering that won't blow you away with spices but has enough holiday-like flavoring and alcohol, 7.4 percent, to fortify you for a night of carolling. Find it in six-packs in liquor stores.
- Bristol's Christmas Ale: Colorado Springs' largest brewery uses a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and molasses in this festive and flavorful beer. The lower alcohol content, 5.6 percent, makes it a great early-day beer for opening Christmas presents, for those so inclined. Available at the brewery and in 22-ounce bottles.
- Delirium No?: This strong Belgian comes from the old country, made by Brouwerij Huyghe. The Belgians did a great job disguising the alcohol in this one, with a smooth taste and gentle finish, so you might not realize it is 10 percent alcohol. Drink with care and a full stomach. Look for it on tap at Brewer's Republic and in liquor stores.
- Hibernation Ale: Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver makes one of Colorado's more popular winter warmers. Grab a bottle or six-pack and you'll see why. An English-style old ale, it's dry hopped and more bitter than many holiday beers, and with an 8.7 percent alcohol content, it might send you off for some hibernation. Look for it in liquor stores.
- Kannah Creek Winter Soulstiz: This imperial red ale is the first seasonal from Grand Junction's Kannah Creek Brewing Co. It isn't loaded with spices or alcohol, 6.2 percent, but it carries a pleasant hop bitterness unusual for winter warmers. Available on tap and in select liquor stores.
- Old Jubilation Ale: From Boulder's Avery Brewing Co. comes a rich, chocolatey holiday offering that, at 8.3 percent alcohol, is sure to make you jubilant. It's classified as an English old ale and what it lacks in spice it makes up for in sweetness. Look for it in six-packs in liquor stores.
- Pikes Peak AdAmAn Ale: Monument's Pikes Peak Brewing Co. named this spiced beer after the AdAmAn Club, which hikes the peak each New Year's Eve. It's flavorful and chock-full of spices, and at 7.5 percent alcohol, I hope the club members have some of this on hand when they're at 14,115 feet in winter.
- 6 Geese a Laying: The strongest beer on this list, a whopping 11.5 percent alcohol, is the sixth in a 12-year project by California's The Bruery. Beer geeks the world over are aging the entire series to open them all in six more years, but lovers of dark, almost sour strong beers will find this a worthy choice on its own. My response was summed up in a "Whoo!" It's available in 750-mil bottles, though hard to find, and, as of last week, on tap at Brewer's Republic.
- The Winter Warmer: Colorado Springs' Rocky Mountain Brewery is known for pushing the envelope of what a beer can be, and their holiday beer is no exception. Brewed with an ancient Chinese spice known as "red prickly ash," this dark and roasty beer is a feast for the taste buds, with a flavor reminiscent of Chinese takeout. It's 8 percent alcohol and is available only in pints at the brewery.
- Upslope Christmas Ale: From Boulder's Upslope Brewing Co. comes winter in a can (or glass). Spiced up and tasty, it hides the high alcohol content, 8.3 percent, well. Be careful with this deceptive and delicious beer so you don't wake up under the Christmas tree. Available on tap and in cans.
- Wolf Creek Winter: You'll need to drive south to find this beer by San Luis Valley Brewing Co., but it's worth it. Flavored with spruce tips, one bottle is enough to make you yearn for a day in the snow at the namesake ski area.