By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Dec 5, 2020
A good Christmas ale or winter warmer really embodies the flavors of the season: rich, warming, sweet and a little bit spicy. Nothing beats sitting by the fire and eating a hearty dinner while sipping on a Christmas ale.
During this season, Ohio beer aficionados (or even newbies to beer) seek out those seasonal brews. Many Ohio breweries have carved a niche nationally with their holiday offerings. Here’s a highlight of seven signature Ohio Christmas ales:
Christmas Ale from Barley's Brewing Company in Columbus
This year marks the 28th time that Barley's has brewed their beloved Christmas ale. It's a perfect holiday drink, as the clear, amber-colored ale is seasoned with orange zest, fresh ginger, whole cinnamon sticks and organic honey. And if you're really feeling festive, pickup a growler and enjoy pouring a glass for yourself - all the comfort of your own kitchen.
Citra Noel from Columbus Brewing Company in Columbus
Columbus Brewing Company's entry to the holiday category is an amber ale. As the name implies, it leans heavily into Citra hops, which impart bold notes of citrus and tropical fruits, from mango and grapefruit to orange and lime. The fruity aromas and flavors are balanced out by a deep, malty center. The taproom is currently closed, but you can order your beer to-go in either a 32 oz. Crowler or 64 oz. Growler (or order a six-pack). And this year, add a little extra fun and buy a Citra Noel glass too!
Blitzen Holiday Ale from Maumee Bay Brewing in Toledo
Toledo's Maumee Bay Brewing is housed in an historic brick building close to the riverfront. From there they craft a collection of fun-to-drink beers, including the Blitzen Holiday Ale that comes dashing and prancing from October through December. The brewmasters balance sweet and roasty flavors by using darker malts plus a generous amount of honey, then they give it a zesty finish with the addition of orange and cinnamon. They even release a boozy, amped-up version called Über Blitzen, too.
Maumee Bay Brewing is offering curbside pickup. Call 419-243-1302 to place your order, pull up to their main MBBC entrance (located on 27 Broadway St.), then call the same number to tell them you have arrived. A MMBC team member will bring out your order.
Dad by Rhinegeist Brewing in Cincinnati
“Hi, Thirsty, '’m dad.” Cue up all the dad jokes when you crack open Rhinegeist's seasonal hoppy holiday ale. Clad in your dad’s favorite flannel shirt, this Christmas ale makes its annual appearance in November and December, on tap and in canned six-packs all around the state. The deep and toasty malt bill is offset by a generous portion of rich, piney hops.
Frosted Frog Christmas Ale from Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron
Hoppin' Frog in Akron has carved out a niche with their amphibian-themed beers sold in 22-ounce bombers. Their iconic frog takes on many forms throughout the year, from the Frog's Hollow double pumpkin ale to the B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher oatmeal imperial stout. From October to December, he appears on bottles of the malty and spicy Frosted Frog Christmas ale. For an added oomph, the brewery also crafts a barrel-aged version of the ale.
Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland
Perhaps the most recognizable winter warmer from Ohio is Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas ale. For many beer drinkers, the season officially starts when the bottle, with its recognizable train car filled with red ornaments on the label, hits the shelves. The rich, copper-colored brew gets its signature sweet kick from honey, cinnamon and ginger.
Taproom to-go orders are now available from Great Lakes Brewing. Call 216-771-4404 or order online to place your order. When you visit their merch store, you can also order a Christmas Ale glass featuring the iconic decorated train car. Or grab a t-shirt and wear your holiday spirit!
12 Dogs of Christmas from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron
Another popular Ohio Christmas ale is Thirsty Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas, noted for its label of a red truck wrapped in Christmas lights. 12 Dogs makes its debut mid-October and sticks around through the end of December. It's spiced with honey, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and "Santa’s secret recipe."
If you're looking for even more festive flavors, check out these Other holiday brews:
- Xmas Pickle from Urban Artifact in Cincinnati
- Beard Crumbs from Land-Grant Brewing in Columbus
- Tannenbaum Christmas Ale from Homestead Beer Co. in Heath
- Kicker of Elves from Devil's Kettle Brewing in Athens
- Festivus Ale from The Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland