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Seasonal Spirits

Published: November 14, 2009

You leave work and the sun has already set. The wind has an unpleasant bite it didn’t have this morning. You smell smoke from fireplaces and leaf piles. Honking geese circle in the twilight. At your favorite pub, the beer garden is locked, and the outdoor speakers are playing Christmas music to empty tables.

It’s time to switch beers from your summer brand. Fortunately, the brewers of America—may Odin bless their tribe—produce a wealth of drinks to lighten spirits and fortify hearts for the cold times ahead.

Their winter brews are more strongly flavored, and may include seasonal fruits, such as pumpkin and cranberry, as well as spices: ginger, cinnamon, orange peel, cardamom, and cloves. Some ales try to reproduce the rich flavorings of old Christmas punches. You might want to try a brewed cider or a lambic: a Belgian-style fruit beer with a slight hint of sourness, brewed with a rare, wild yeast.

Where To Start

Pull up a stool and visit seasonalbeerandfood.org. This Web site suggests seasonal brews available for the month and state you enter. Each entry has a brief description and suggested food pairings. The notes are intriguing—and will whet the appetite of even indifferent browsers. For example, the entry for Widdershins Barleywine suggests it best accompanies blue cheeses and rich desserts. The notes from the brewer state:

“Counterclockwise to the traditional American-style barleywines, we designed this beer to be rounder and smoother than some less-refined version. Full of caramel and malt flavors, yet balanced with a variety of different hop varieties all vying for your attention. Oak aging and sparing use of specialty malt add complexity to this already deep beer. Pairs with cerebral after-dinner conversation.”

You can also find interesting reviews of seasonal brews at blogcatalog.com/blogs/the-brew-club-a-beer-review-site/posts/tag/seasonal+beers

Several pumpkin brews are reviewed at thomsbeerblog.blogspot.com.

You’ll also find thebrewsite.com informative about holiday beverages, including a special Hanukkah beer.

Still thirsty for more beer news? Get your Web server’s attention and order up some of these sites:




We found so many brew blogs that we suspect that beer reviews may be an important new form of journalism. There’s certainly enough material on which to write, and enough interest among readers. No wonder so many taverns now offer Wi-Fi Internet access. Brew reporters can now file their stories while “in the field.”

File your own report below. Help our readers to find the good stuff.

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