Champagne is so closely linked to celebrations that even the rarest of beer white whales sometimes fail to fit the occasion, especially when shared with people more used to a bottle of bubbly. Bieres de champagne do exist, but are ridiculously hard to find in Canada (and expensive when you do), but Beau’s comes to the rescue with a beer that rises to the occasion, in looks and style. Presented in an attractive corked and caged bottle (yes – the cork can fly), this wine barrel-aged tripel has enough in common with champagne to please beer and wine drinkers alike.
Black Oak Nutcracker Porter
In each of the past three year’s we’ve added a nutcracker to our decorations. What seems like a cute family tradition today, will be a Hitchcock-inspired nightmare by the time the last kid moves out. Fortunately, Black Oak’s Nutcracker Porter will always be welcome in my house. The marriage of the porter base with cinnamon produces a festive flavour reminiscent of figgy pudding, and finishes on a clean, almost fresh herbal note. It’s a great style for the holidays and will drink well beyond them too.
Central City Thor’s Hammer
The holiday season brings so much joy: awkward work parties, parking at shopping malls, and spending quality time with the in-laws. Weighing in north of 11%, this heavy-hitting barleywine is a rich, sticky antidote to all that ails you. A delightful mix of toffee, dark fruit and chocolate is paired with a surprisingly well-balanced alcohol presence. Not only is it an outstanding taste experience, but a glass also makes Cousin Eddie’s conversation about his divorce far more bearable at the family festive gathering.
Garrison Spruce Beer
Now we know what Haligonians do with their left over Christmas trees. This gem from Garrison is the perfect evocation of the holiday season, and Canadian winters in general. Eschewing the traditional bag of baking spice approach to festive brewing, Garrison has reached back in time to North America’s earliest beers, pulling in molasses and wild spruce tips (as opposed to the domesticated kind, which lend an inferior flavour to the brewing process). The end result screams of a hike through a snowy forest, cutting down a tree with your own axe, and dressing it in front of the fire in your log cabin. It also tastes damn good.
McAuslan Russian Imperial Stout
This seasonal gem from Quebec arrives with the ominous weight of an East Coast winter storm, but is as smooth and soft as the spring rains on the BC coast. This is everything an imperial stout should be – rich in texture, powerful and complex in its flavour profile, and with a warming presence that never once seems brash or out of place. Espresso, dark chocolate and bourbon come together in a sweet harmony that makes this the perfect sipper at a holiday gathering, or a warming reward after a session of snow shovelling.