Spread some holiday cheer with these must-try brews

By Mathieu Poirier

This time of year is one of my favourites with respect to beer releases. Big, rich, dark beers come out of the woodwork, sometimes literally, and especially when the social aspect of beer comes into play, we get to see some of the local breweries showcase some of their best beers.

One of my favourites at this time of year is Hoyne Brewing’s Gratitude. Visually, the paper-wrapped bottle makes for a great experience in social settings, as you get to unwrap this beer like the gift that it is. This winter warmer provides nice rich notes of vanilla and spice along with plum and brandy, making it a great choice once dinner is done and dessert is waiting.

A local classic at this time of year is also Vancouver Island Brewing’s Hermannator. For its 30th anniversary, not only is this eisbock available in a 6 pack, but also as a special edition aged in red wine barrels in a gorgeous silkscreened 650 ml bottle, a perfect format to share. As a side note, both beers recently won gold medals at the Tastings.com World Beer Championships, so this is a great opportunity to try some of the best rated beers around. Category 12 also has a few offerings this holiday season, but the one that stood out this year is their Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Lighter in body (compared to most holiday seasonals), but packing a punch at 11.6% ABV, this beer, served in a snifter glass alongside a fire fits the season perfectly with its notes of vanilla and caramel.

Not every release at this time of year is a dinner party beer. Victoria and the most important meal of the day go hand-in-hand, and a great option for a breakfast beer comes from Moon Under Water. The currently expanding brewpub has released this year’s Oranje Maan Imperial Mandarin Wit for the winter season, and this bubbly, wheaty, lightly warming beer with some great citrus notes from the mandarin oranges could replace a mimosa alongside any brunch you happen to have at home or wait in line for this winter. Finally, I wanted to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season, and remind you that whatever you drink, do it responsibly and have a safe ride home.

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