The holiday season is synonymous with warmth, joy, and, of course, the perfect Christmas beer to accompany the festivities. In this article, we’re delving into the world of Christmas beers to uncover why these festive brews hold such a special place in our hearts. Plus, we’ll be giving you our top tips on the best Christmas beers and Christmas ales out there.  

When did brewers start making Christmas beer? 

The tradition of brewing Christmas beer dates back centuries. It has its roots in medieval Europe when brewing beer was often linked to monasteries. Monks, who were skilled brewers, would create special brews to celebrate Christmas. These festive beers were typically richer, stronger, and spiced with various herbs and botanicals to add warmth and flavour to the holiday season. Over time, the tradition expanded beyond monasteries, and different regions developed their own unique styles of Christmas beers and Christmas ales. Today, brewers around the world continue this tradition, crafting special holiday brews with a variety of festive flavours to mark the Christmas season. 

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What are winter beers? 

There’s nothing better than getting cosy for the festive season with a selection of winter beers — often ales, barley wines, stouts, porters and quadruples. The emphasis is on warmth and strength, which is perfect for dark nights. Check out our pick of the best winter warmers below. 

Christmas kegs and winter beer kegs

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Why are Christmas beers traditionally heavier? 

In the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, brewing was only possible during winter. The lack of more advanced techniques during the warmer months meant it was impossible to cool. This setup seemed to work well for the labourers, who worked on farms during the summer and then found work in breweries during the winter. When the cold came, the leftovers of the granary were used to make heavier winter brews.  

A nice example of this is the Avec les Bons Voeux (Best Wishes in English), a Tripel Saison from Dupont Brewery and a quite heavier version of the Saison Dupont. Nowadays, almost every Belgian brewery creates a similar winter treat.  

Beers for Christmas 

You may or may not know that Christmas beer is in fact a style. They are seasonal beers that are exclusively brewed at this time of year. They are commonly strong, dark, and spiced with cinnamon, orange peel, cloves and vanilla — the true tastes of Christmas. 

When the cold air of the winter season rattles at your window and pumpkin beers of autumn give way to holiday offerings, beers with a spiced warmth and high alcohol content help you ignore the chill outside. Beers with chocolate, vanilla and sweet dark fruits also create a particular richness and feeling of luxury that is so often synonymous with Christmas time. 

Are there Christmas beer festivals? 

In short - yes! In the 90s, several OBERs (Objective Beer Tasters) from Germany took the initiative to bring all Belgian Christmas and winter beers together. What once started as a local festival with 40 beers, has now become a true phenomenon. The Christmas Beer Festival is one of the best beer festivals in Belgium. Christmas beer lovers come from far and wide to taste Christmas beers and Christmas Ales for the weekend. The visitors also vote for their favourite Christmas beer.  

Christmas beer gifts 

For some festive beery magic, why not send some tasty brews to your beer lover? They make fantastic gifts... if we do say so ourselves.