Christmas beers: spiced and perfumed, to taste closed to the fireplace.
The original way to celebrate the holidays
You cannot talk about a real style, because each brewery so that each home brewer has its own recipe, but it is something peculiar. Christmas beers are produced in autumn so that they are ready to be drink in winter. They can make special and tasty the celebrations of the end of the year.
The tradition of Christmas beers start from Belgium (the country where beer is an authentic culture) and in the United States where there are beer dedicated to particular occasions (think about the Pumpkin Ale for Halloween) but that is becoming popular everywhere.
Christmas Beers are usually dark, pretty strong to face the cold winter evenings and characterized by a low hopping to not cover the taste of the spices. What characterize it, in fact, is the use of aromas that remind the desserts of the Christmas tradition as cinnamon, saffron, cloves and nutmeg. They are often flavoured with lemon or orange zest, brown sugar and other ingredients, according to the creativity and the inspiration of the brew master.
The birth of a tradition
As we told before, the crib of the Christmas beer is Belgium. Till the ‘800 an alcoholic and spiced drink was tapped at the end of the year. It was usually an experimental product addressed to the workers in the factories. After the success among the workers, this original beer becomes a Christmas present for the richer clients and finally it was sold. The tradition has spread all over the North of Europe in the United States. It is curious, then, that one of the most developed countries in the brew panorama, Germany, has the lowest consumption of Christmas beers. Germans, in fact, are strictly tied to the German Beer Purity Law of 1516, that states that the production of beer needs only water, barley malt and hop. The same happens in Great Britain where the use of the spices isn’t that appreciated by the consumers.
In Italy, finally, the proliferation of the microbreweries in the recent years starts the trend to propose specific beers for the Christmas holidays. At the beginning, the Belgian influence was clear but now it seems clear the need to find our own authenticity.
A collection of Christmas beers
It is difficult, in such a variegated world, to list a ranking of the best Christmas beers. In some cases it is difficult to find in Italy the beers coming from abroad. It can be, however, to find them on the shelves of the specialized shops, and why not, to taste them travelling.
One of the most interesting is the Nils Oscar Julol. It is produced in Nykoping in Sweden and it is a dark high fermentation beer, characterized by the use of four different qualities of hop and notes of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit.
The American Goose Island, in Chicago propose an amber Christmas Ale that leave in the mouth a delicate taste of caramel and toffee, the famous soft candy.
It comes from Belgium, from the brewery De Dolle, the Stille Nacht, with a high alcoholic volume (12%) and the sweetness given by the use of candied sugar, well balanced with hop.