Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Michigan Holiday Beers: A Merry Christmas to All, And to All a Good Night!

Written by  Paul Starr
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 Mi Christmas Beers

The holiday season is upon us – and with that comes hand-crafted beers made right here in Michigan. Whether pairing with your meal, warming up after a day in the snow or giving as a gift for someone special on your holiday list, these Christmas brews make the perfect selection.
Arbor Brewing, Ann Arbor
Figjam (11.7% ABV | 35 IBU). Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like this Figjam Quadruple Belgian, with its warming alcohol, figgy undertones, dark dried fruit flavors of raison dates, hints of fresh baked bread, and a beautiful dry finish that leaves you wanting more.

Atwater Brewery, Detroit
Christmas Ale. Like trimming the tree, this beer should be part of every holiday tradition. Imported malts roll richly together to deliver a gift of raisin, caramel and honey flavors. A dash of spice brings forth almond and gingerbread aromas while leaving a clean, bright finish. Forget the cookies, leave this Christmas Ale out for Santa.

Bad Bear Brewing, Albion
Who's Driving the Sleigh?!? (6.5% ABV). A fa-la-la-la-lovely Porter brewed in classic holiday tradition with egg nog spices, real Dutch chocolate and peppermint candy canes. This rich, dark, wintertime offering is sure to leave you feeling all warm and toasty inside!

Beards Brewery, Petoskey
No Ragrets (Not even one letter) (6.4% ABV). An English brown ale spiced with fresh ginger, orange peel, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. No Ragrets is reminiscent of all of the best Christmas cookies—gingersnap, spice cookie and molasses.

Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo
Christmas Ale (5.5% ABV | 33 IBU). The basic inspiration for this brew was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally-grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year. In contrast to many other seasonals, Christmas Ale doesn't contain any spices: all of the dry, toasted notes and subtle toffee flavors come from the 100% Michigan-grown barley, custom malted by Briess Malting, while a blend of hops from Michigan and the Pacific Northwest lend earthy, herbal aromas. This seasonal stands as a smooth, highly drinkable beer intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them.

Dark Horse Brewing, Marshall
4 Elf (9% ABV). This spiced winter warmer is brewed with nutmeg, clove, allspice and other holiday flavors.

Dragonmead Microbrewery, Warren
Jul Ol Norwegian Spiced Christmas Ale (5.8% ABV | 26 IBU). This dark, malted beer is available exclusively at Christmas time. In the Norway beer classification this beer is considered a Sterkøl, a beer over 4.75%, so when you enjoy this Christmas beer, think back to some of those that came before it and go 'full Viking' and make your tradition!”

Frankenmuth Brewery, Frankenmuth
Christmas Town Ale (6% ABV | 27 IBU). Toasted dark malts and American hops combine with holiday flavors to create a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. The hops are delicately balanced with the sweetness of the malts in this medium-bodied brown ale brewed with just the right amount of winter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to deliver a treat to your nose as it is does to your palate. Christmas Town Ale stands alone as a smooth and flavorful tribute to the town of Frankenmuth and the magic of the season.

Griffin Claw, Birmingham
3 Scrooges Winter Ale (6.5% ABV). Brewed with honey, orange peel and spices, this winter ale is perfect for the season.

Grizzly Peak, Ann Arbor
White Christmas White Ale (7.7% ABV | 30 IBU). ‘Wit’ is a Belgian style wheat beer. Wit actually means white — the milky whitish color coming from the large percentage of wheat used in the mash and fermentation by a special type of brewing yeast. Wits are also traditionally spiced with orange peel and coriander. This version is stronger (minus the coriander) and it has a bit more hop character (American Cascades) for this Hellish holiday season. It starts with a rich spicy and yeasty aroma, followed by a crisp and light citrus hop flavor, with a warming alcohol finish. Available in limited quantities at the pub.
 

Harmony Brewing, Grand Rapids

Gingerbread Man (6.8% | ABV 37.7 IBU) Using ginger root, nutmeg and cinnamon stick help to celebrate the season with the tradition expected from a gingerbread cookie. A holiday treat in a glass!

Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter / Ann Arbor / Traverse City

Noel de Calabaza (9% ABV | 45 IBU). Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops and hints of fruit and spice like figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles make this the perfect accompaniment for all kinds of good cheer!

Jubilance (7% ABV | 40 IBU). A collaborative brew made with locally-produced Press on Juice and local Crystal and Zeus hops. The specialty grains lend a candied sugar presence, while giving the beer a burgundy color that is sharpened by the color of the cranberry, orange, apple and ginger juices. The blend of barley, wheat and rye are complimented with ginger juice, while the fermented fructose from cranberry gives it a tart, boozy finish. Available exclusively in the Old Mission Peninsula-Traverse City tasting room.

Mountain Town Station, Mount Pleasant

Polar Express (8% ABV | 34 IBU). All aboard! This rich, full bodied stout is brewed with cocoa nibs and fresh-ground locally-roasted coffee from Narrativality Artisan Coffee Roasters.

North Peak Beer, Dexter / Ann Arbor / Traverse City

Blitzen Festivus Ale (6.8% ABV | 55 IBU). The raisin, currant and berry notes are attributed to Bramling Cross hops, three types of crystal malts, cara and chocolate malt, which rounds out the flavors and aromas, with a hint of burnt sugar and chocolate. A combination of citrus peel and citrus pith flavors are accented by Hercules, Cascade and Pilgrim hops added throughout the boil. The subtle spiciness of Riwaka’s hops, combined with the crisp spiciness from rye malt, presents liberated flavors, reminiscent of savory holiday cakes.

Rockford Brewing, Rockford

Big Jack Horner Style: Plum English Barleywine (11.2% ABV | 60 IBU). The richest and strongest of the English Ales, yet not as hop focused as the American versions. Historically English Barleywines were brewed for the winter or holiday season. A showcase of malty richness and complex, intense flavors balanced with higher levels of alcohol. This variation is brewed with fresh Michigan plums grown by the Meachum family at High Acres Fruit Farm in Hartford, which add a soft fruitiness to the background and help round out the flavor profile.

Schmohz Brewery, Grand Rapids

Miracle Off 28th Street (9.2% ABV | 28 IBU). Miracle is a paradigm of the finest malts and complex hop blends to build the superlative winter ale for mature tastes. Brewed as an Olde Ale, exhibiting the seasoned character of the brew house staff. Enjoy Miracle with family and friends, in front of hearth and home.

The Filling Station, Traverse City

Bristol Old Ale (10.5% ABV). UK Maris Otter, Rye, Special B, Black and German pilsner malts blend with UK Fuggles and Goldings hops and raw cane sugar to create this dark, rich beer with a bit of roast, with a sweet finish. Aging for over a year now, this will get your Yule log burning!


The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its 140-plus member breweries.

The Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, we strive to achieve a 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.

Michigan ranks #5 in the nation for the number of craft breweries – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State”.

Paul Starr

Paul Starr

Paul Starr is the creator of the I'm a Beer Hound and one of the organizer and the driving force behind Art & Craft Beerfest, Lansing Beer Fest, Beerfest at the Ballpark Spring & Fall. When he's not working on Beer Hound he's probably watching the Lions, Tigers or Red Wings. Being a recent new Dad of twins, he doesn't have much extra time these days for mischief.