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December 02, 2015

10 local holiday beers to add to your wish list

Winter warmers and spicy ales to make your spirits bright

Beer Holidays
christmas beers Photo Illustration/for PhillyVoice

Troegs' Mad Elf, Weyerbacher's Winter Ale and Sly Fox's Christmas Ale.

Just as local farm-to-table eateries change their menus with the seasons, craft breweries create new beers for each change in weather. After all, a night in front of the fire requires a very different beverage than a day on the beach. Thus, we've rounded up some of our favorite winter warmers, spicy ales and holiday suds below. 

Not ready for to restock your fridge just yet? Turn back to our fall beer guide, in which we asked local brewers to name their autumn favorites. Then use the beers below as a holiday shopping guide for the libation-lovers on your list. 

Christmas beers
From left to right, Troegs Independent Brewing's Blizzard of Hops, Philadelphia Brewing Company's Winter Wunder and Flying Fish Brewing's Gran Cru Winter Reserve. (Handout Art)

Troegs' Blizzard of Hops Winter IPA

Available November through January, this IPA packs an extra punch of flavor with notes of hop and citrus. Turns out winter, when hop harvest season is ending, is a great time for a hoppy beer. Use Troegs' brew finder to locate it near you. 

Philadelphia Brewing Company's Winter Wunder

The equivalent of a pumpkin spice ale in the fall, this wintry brew has flavors of plums, dates, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger. It's best to drink this one wrapped up in a cozy blanket, watching a holiday film. Check Philly Tap Finder for bars with this brew on tap. 

Flying Fish's Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Though it has a wintry spirit, you won't find any spices or fruit in this Belgian ale. Available November through January, it's a true warmer with a strong presence of malt and alcohol. Check Philly Tap Finder for bars with Grand Cru on tap.

christmas beers
From left to right, Troegs Independent Brewing's Mad Elf, Weyerbacher Brewing's Winter Ale and Sly Fox Brewing's Christmas Ale. (Handout Art)

Troegs' Mad Elf

There's a reason this popular seasonal flies off the shelves when it's released each October. Mad Elf is deep and sweet and its fruity-chocolatey flavor is like dessert in a bottle, but it packs a punch at 11 percent ABV. Look through Troegs' brew finder and, if you're lucky, you'll find it in a bottle shop near you. 

Weyerbacher's Winter Ale

If Mad Elf is a bit too intense for your tastes, try this Weyerbacher brew. It's got the malt and chocolate flavors, but with some dry roast flavors to balance the sweetness. Check your local bottle shop or peer through Philly Tap Finder for this one. 

Sly Fox's Christmas Ale

Looking for Christmas spirit in a can? Sly Fox's seasonal contribution has all the classic spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, etc.) packed into a smooth red ale. Click here to find out if it's on tap at Sly Fox itself, then check in with Philly Tap Finder for Philly locations.

christmas beers 3
Evil Genius' Santa!! I Know Him! and Fegley's Brew Works' Rude Elf's Reserve. (Handout Art)

Evil Genius' Santa!! I Know Him!

It's hard to resist a beer whose name references one of the best Christmas movies around, "Elf." Like Buddy the Elf's favorite condiment, this deep, dark, dry drink features sweet syrup flavors plus notes of rose and chamomile. Use Evil Genius' online map for take-out locations or try Philly Tap Finder for draught versions. 

Fegley's Rude Elf's Reserve

This award-winning brew is a dark Belgian that, like Mad Elf, packs a punch at 10.5 percent ABV. It's got all the holiday spices plus the strength of a true warmer. It's rare to find this on tap in Philly, but it's available at Fegley's Allentown and Bethlehem locations during the holiday season.

Manayunk Brewing Company's Festivus Ale

One batch of this warming brew is made each holiday season, so it always tastes a little different. This year's batch has flavors of plum and raisin. Find it at Manayunk's brewpub

Iron Hill's winter brews

Through the holiday season, many of Iron Hill's individual brewpub locations release their own themed brews. This year the Media, Maple Shade, Chestnut Hill, Phoenixville and Newark locales will have special winter warmers available. All 11 locations will be selling Rudolph's Revenge in 16 oz. cans, too.