Beers for ChristmasBeer exclusively for the holidays
Is the Christmas tree up? The house decorated with sparkling ornaments? The Christmas lights shining bright and a wreath hanging on the door? Then it's time for beer. Christmas beer!
Jan Machiel van Bragt is the co-organiser of the annual Christmas Beer Festival in Essen (Belgium). He's going to give you an insight into the phenomenon of Christmas beer and "his" festival, for which the tickets already sold out back in August.
Most beers can be put in some main or sub-category or style. The brews that appear especially in winter time actually form a category of their own, a kind of freestyle. General characteristics of a winter beer are a high fermentation as well as a high alcohol percentage. It often has a dark colour and is seasoned. The herbs, which are also used in mulled wine, are typically "wintry" and include cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, liquorice, anise and thyme.
Beer for the gods
Let's take a look at the history of the Christmas and winter beer tradition. The Scandinavians celebrated the Winter Solstice Feasts in honour of the Gods Odin and Thor long before our era. The Germans also used to drink a hot and spicy beverage during winter. This hot drink made its way to England and as of today is still being drunk as a kind of cider in certain areas. Later, when the Christians started celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, many festive drinks were also consumed. A special beverage for the holidays is thus a long tradition.