Friday Tastings: Christmas Ales

Belgium has some rather odd Christmas traditions (the whole double Santa thing sounds like a bad Vince Vaughn treatment), but when it comes to delicious Christmas brews their customs are beyond reproach. Rich and potent Belgium ales brewed with spice are the perfect companions for the chill and cheer of the season.  Here, three superior, bottle-conditioned, and very different Christmas pints for the lucky few remaining on your “nice” list.

First, the Serafijn Christmas Angel, from Brouwerij Achilles. Music teacher-cum-microbrewer Achilles Va de Moer crafted this Belgium Strong Ale with a lighter touch than most winter brews. It’s reminiscent of a saison, fluffy and effervescent, with pronounced gingerbread and coriander. And from Kerkom, a picturesque farmhouse brewery in Flanders, the Bink Grand Cru will knock your stockings off, and not just because it’s brewed at 13%. This dark ale reached America for the first time this year, and it’s one of the most gorgeous things we’ve ever tasted: rich, expansive, and fudge-filled.  Chocolate cake in a bottle. Finally, if you prefer more bitter with your sweet, there’s Mikkeller’s robust (and cleverly-labeled) From/To, a spiced Christmas porter.  Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is an acclaimed gipsy-brewer, doing his thing in accommodating breweries around the world. From/To has recognizable porter roastiness (coffee and tobacco), with a dusting of cinnamon and a proper bitter finish. Did we mention it comes with its own label?

Any of these (or all three) will make spirits bright this weekend. Happy drinking gentlemen, and happy holidays.

All available from Shelton Brothers.

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