Ohio is in a craft beer renaissance. There’s no shortage of places throughout the state that make their own beer – and when the weather turns cold and there’s Christmas in the air, that typically includes holiday-themed brews. Most Christmas beers are “winter warmers,” a nebulous beer category that includes relatively high alcohol content (at least 7 percent; please drink responsibly) and a brewing process that includes some type of spices.
The granddaddy of Ohio Christmas brews – and really, of the Ohio microbrewing scene in general – remains Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland. For 25 years, they’ve been making an annual Christmas Ale, with its first tap in the end of October becoming an annual event (and the busiest day of the year) at the brewery’s Ohio City brewpub. New this year is barrel-aged Christmas Ale, aged in bourbon barrels, but that’s only available at the brewpub.
Not far from Great Lakes is Market Garden Brewery (its Prosperity wheat beer might be my absolute favorite). Their main Christmas offering is Festivus, named, of course, for the holiday proposed by George Costanza’s father on “Seinfeld.” It’s lighter in color than your average Christmas brew, but demonstrates the spiciness typically expected (There’s also a barrel-aged version of that as well). Additionally, Market Garden makes two other holiday beers, both playing off the “Seinfeld” theme as well: Feats of Strength, a barrel-aged ale with 10.5 percent alcohol, and Airing of Grievances.
One of my favorite Christmas offerings is Holly Jolly from Fathead’s, in no small part because its brewpub and production facilities aren’t that far from me in Cleveland’s west side suburbs. I typically even keep a growler in the fridge around the holiday season.
Columbus Brewing Co. makes a Citra Noel, which isn’t quite your standard winter warmer, demonstrating a hoppy flavor atypical to the type (its label includes a hop plant dressed up as a Christmas tree). And in Cincinnati, Rheingeist makes “Dad,” a beer with a plaid label conjuring memories of 1950s sitcom fathers’ sweaters. It’s a dark, flavorful brew.
The beers I highlighted are typically available in bottles or cans at stores throughout the state, and don’t involve a pilgrimage to the local microbrew (although it’s never a bad idea). But there are plenty of options for craft beer enthusiasts who are looking for something to get them in the Christmas spirit.
For more holiday cheer, Find It Here at Ohio.org.