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Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Way back in the Middle Ages, during the holidays, spices, instead of hops, were added to beer to add flavor. That tradition reemerged in the 1900's, and is the inspiration behind many holiday beers on the market today. Great Lakes Christmas Ale ($12) is one of many in a crowded market, but manages to separate itself with its unique recipe and flavor profile. Christmas Ale is brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon, providing a tasty gift that belongs under the tree of every craft beer enthusiast.

  • Fireside Chat Beer

    There's nothing quite like the holiday season, mostly because of the unique beer releases that make their way to bottle shop shelves. 21st Amendment Brewing in San Fransisco agrees, and treats us with Fireside Chat ($12) to help usher in the season. Just like the depression-era radio addresses FDR used to churn out, this spiced winter ale is both warming and illuminating. It's a dark English-style ale with a nice balance of spices that bring to mind vanilla, nutmeg and caramel malt. A flavorful, comforting beverage for any winter evening.

  • Stone Crime & Punishment Beer

    Sometimes, there is a certain amount of extra testosterone required to eat intensely hot chili peppers. And it might take even more to tip back a bottle of one of Stone Brewing's new fiery beers Crime and Punishment ($18). Stone co-founder Greg Koch started with barrel aged Lukcy Basartd (correct spelling) and Double Bastard, and then dumped a variety of estate-grown chile peppers into the beer. The results are two ruthless, sweat-inducing beverages that are not for the faint of heart. This is the first time Stone is nationally distributing beer from their limited Stone Quingenti Millilitre Series, so keep an eye out, if you can stand the heat.