Over the past few weeks the real ale connoisseur of the house, Mr JibberJabber, has been tirelessly seeking out the best in bottled Christmas and winter beers. Ever since he spent time in Copenhagen as part of his degree he has learnt to appreciate the fine art of a Christmas beer. Here's a selection of this year's offerings from fruity beers to the more traditional strong ales.
Farmers Belgian Blue – Bradfield Brewery ABV 4.9% 500ml
Brewed in the Peak District but still located within the City of Sheffield boundary, Bradfield Brewery has been brewing real ale since 2005. Using local spring water this winter warmer has Christmas berry overtones which gives it a very unusual slight blue tint to the head!
S'no wonder – Dukeries Brewery ABV 5.5% 500ml
The Dukeries Brewery is named after an area in Nottinghamshire known as the Dukeries due to it having four ducal seats – Clumber House, Thoresby Hall, Welbeck Abbey and Worksop Manor. This is described as “a strong bitter with balanced fruit on the palate and a soft dry finish”.
Mary Christmas – Ilkley Brewery ABV 4.7% 500ml
Think of the flavours of Christmas and this beer promises to deliver it in a glass. The recipe uses fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg and dark Caribbean Rum to produce an amber ale. Ilkley Brewery say the prefect food match for this beer is roast turkey and Christmas cake!
Holly Bush – Salopian Brewery ABV 5.5% 500ml
We're travelling cross country for our beer in the form of Holly Bush from Shropshire. Inside this beautifully understated bottle you will find a light and fruity burnt red ale.
Winter Welcome Ale – Samuel Smith's Brewery ABV 6% 550ml
We are back into Yorkshire with a visit to Yorkshire's oldest brewery. Yes, Samuel Smith and John Smith do have family connections but the Samuel Smith's Brewery to this day remains independent brewing fine ales and ciders from its Tadcaster base. Now in its 25th year the Winter Welcome Ale has become something of seasonal real ale institution. Each year the label changes slightly and has become something of a collector's item. At 6% ABV this is not for the faint hearted and is developed through the use fermentation in stone Yorkshire squares. As a note it is also suitable for Vegans.
Santa's Tipple – The Great Yorkshire Brewery ABV 6% 500ml
Lastly, one to keep Santa warm on his Christmas Eve sleigh flight although at 6% ABV it may end up a case of Santa's Topple rather than Santa's Tipple. This is a full on winter beer with vanilla, chocolate, orange and warming spices such as star anise.