A feast of Christmas beers

The global explosion of craft brewing, aided by our strong dollar, gives us an amazing choice of Christmas beer styles – ranging from merely cold and wet, to complex, or even challenging.

Over the year I’ve tasted many outstanding beers. Some were seasonal offerings, now sold out. But the five-star brews recommended below should still be available at specialist outlets, like Plonk, Fyshwick markets.

For an irresistible American take on the classic, malty, bitter Czech Pilsen style, savour Samuel Adams Noble Pils (355ml $8.40). Also from America, and pole-vaulting to the hoppiest of hoppy heights, is Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Whole-cone IPA (355ml $7.70).

Fullers Golden Pride (500ml $8.40) offers sumptuous maltiness and satisfying bitterness, while fellow Englishman, Taddy Porter (550ml $7.40), provides robust, velvet smooth, sensuous drinking. And below, find one favourite each from Australia and New Zealand.

Coopers Thomas Cooper’s Selection Celebration Ale 355ml 6-pack $18–$20
The party goes on. The commemorative ale Tim and Glenn Cooper released last year to mark Cooper’s 150th anniversary has become a regular offering. The ale is reddish coloured, fruity, with citrusy hops high notes, generously flavoured and finishing hoppy and lingeringly bitter.

8 Wired Brew Co Saison Sauvin 500ml $10
This is a Kiwi take, from the heart of Marlborough sauvignon blanc country, on a traditional Belgian seasonal brew. Pungent, spicy sauvin hops from Nelson, to the west of Marlborough, permeates the rich, smooth, high-alcohol palate, leaving a lingeringly bitter, spicy, hoppy aftertaste. What a classy beer – big and assertive but well balanced.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 18 December 2013 in the Canberra Times