We get it, Cleveland – you love Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Christmas Ale. We do too. Trust us. But it's hardly the only winter craft beer pouring from local breweries during the chilly months. Why not sample the full menu? There isn't much to do in the meantime that is as delicious, nutritious or more apt to get you in the Christmas spirit, because everyone knows Christmas goes best with beer.
Whether you're looking for something to grab at your local convenience store or a local option on tap, almost every brewery in Northeast Ohio has something to offer, and it doesn't all have to taste like nutmeg.
We're partial to Festivus Ale at Market Garden Brewery, which the McNulty empire describes as, "smooth, spicy (allspice, ginger & cinnamon), malty with an elegant finish thanks to caramelized wort and a bit of brown sugar." Enjoyed with or without Feats of Strength.
Buckeye offers up Christmas Girl, which clocks in with a lower ABV than most Christmas offerings but with all the taste. "Flavorful, easy drinking, delicate beer brewed with quality French & Belgian base malt and complex Belgian yeast," they say and we have to agree though we don't know necessarily know much about yeast.
Indigo Imp's Winter Soul can be found in most grocery stores, which is nice, even though more places should stock the brew. "A deep amber, full bodied ale, brewed with four different malts, Cascade hops and just enough orange peel and cinnamon to be Impishly delicious," is how they bill their offering. Bonus points awarded for a description that also teaches Clevelanders a new vocab word.
Fat Head's has a couple of seasonal options, one of which tags along with Xzibit. Pimp My Sleigh is a Belgian Christmas Ale with, "intricate aromas and flavors of sweet dark malt, dark fruit, raisins, figs, anise and spicy phenols. This beer will sting the toes and bite the nose, but no worries, the horse knows the way," they promise, although that's putting a lot of trust in a horse. There's also the more traditional Holly Jolly Ale. "Sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice. Sip this by the fire with your significant other," is their recommendation. "Who knows, maybe it will lead to a little inspiration of your own. From our Jolly Fat Man to yours, Happy Holidays." Or, you know, drink it without a Fat Man around.
The Brew Kettle stays with the spices for its Winter Warmer. "A Christmas Ale packed with the spices of the holidays; cinnamon, ginger, orange & lemon peel, and a sleigh load of honey. A beer that's loaded with holiday cheer!"
Willoughby Brewing Company brings glad tidings and a brown ale with Wenceslas, which has a "rich malt character" and an assortment of spices. It also will have you reaching for Wikipedia, where you'll learn Good King Wenceslas gave alms to the poor. Willoughby is happy enough just giving you beer.
Thirsty Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale tastes pretty similar to Great Lakes' version, but they think theirs is the "perfect libation for the season," which is their right. It's yours to drink a bunch of it and find out for yourself.
Last but not least, Hoppin' Frog, which wins all sorts of awards across the beer landscape every year, rolls out Frosted Frog Christmas Ale. "The essence of Christmas is captured in this very bottle," they claim, which sounds a lot like magic or voodoo. "Perfectly blended spices compliment Frosted Frog's rich malt flavors, creating the ultimate Christmas experience."
One correction there: The ultimate Christmas experience is tasting them all, so get to work.