No doubt you’ve been exploring fall beers, but those aggressive decorations at every store remind us: the holidays are coming up. Whether your mind is on work parties and festive family gatherings — what’ll please the crowd? — or it’s just a fireside moment to yourself, we’ve gathered some options to help you find the best holiday beers.
Dark styles are sort of like the sweaters of craft beer, their complex and roasty flavors beckoning you with their warmth come winter. Some dark beers also have a certain richness or heft that seems to fit the holidays, much like our food preferences can shift to heartier meals. And while we’ve got some darker beers to check out below, there are other styles (and colors!) that say “holiday beer” in their own ways.
Take the guesswork out of your next beer run with our roundup of top holiday brews. Scroll through them all or jump to what catches your eye. And of course we lead off with a flavor-packed classic that’s all about the annual hop harvest — when Christmas comes early for our brewers.
Celebration IPA is a race against the clock. Hop harvest happens once a year, and hop flavor is most intense right when they’re picked. Each harvest, we hand-select the best Cascade and Centennial hops, rush them home, and brew immediately to capture the full power of citrus, pine, and rose. We first launched Celebration IPA in 1981, blazing a path for “holiday beer” to stand pure — all hops and no spice, despite the nutmeg theories out there. This season, give the gift of fresh hops.
The first time we ever put Narwhal in barrels — before the beer even had a name! — our brewer Jeff White knew it was something special. “I remember telling my boss, ‘This is an award-winning beer.’” Jeff called it: a 2013 Great American Beer Festival medal soon followed. Since then, our barrel program has taken off, and now Barrel-Aged Narwhal is available nationwide. You want something to pair with holiday dessert? This is it. After nearly a year in bourbon barrels, Narwhal emerges with notes of oak, vanilla, and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso.
Home for the holidays means you’re rallying old friends too. Make the reunion official with a round of Hazy Little Thing, brewed with juicy hops, silky malt, and barely any bitterness — smooth flavor while the stories flow. Hazy IPA as a craft beer style is unmatched in popularity, having nailed intense flavor while still being easy drinking.
Here’s the deal: you’re hosting everyone and their mother (literally), and you’re trying to keep drinks simple. One beer in the mix? Easy, Pale Ale. It’s a legend, having sparked the American craft beer revolution and launched the global love affair with hops. Anyone who opens the fridge will see green and nod with approval. Pale Ale delivers the perfect balance of bold Cascade hops and smooth caramel malt.
Available exclusively online. Shipping to select states, while supplies last.
Bigfoot Barleywine is a force when fresh, and an adventure when aged. That’s why some longtime fans collect every vintage year of our cult classic to taste how the flavors evolve. Its aggressive hops eventually mellow, and the bittersweet malts develop pleasant notes of sherry or port wine. Do your own side-by-side tasting with friends and family over the holidays with our custom vertical 12-pack, featuring Bigfoot bottles from 2011, 2014, 2016 & 2017. Then grab the fresh 2023 batch in January and experience this beast at max intensity.
Available exclusively online starting in December. Shipping to select states, while supplies last.
Porters were invented for the working class of London’s bustling markets — those with calluses on their hands, doing work that needed to be done. It’s fitting that, while hand-building Sierra Nevada’s first brewhouse, Ken Grossman decided Sierra Nevada Porter would complete his original lineup of beers. Brewed in a hop-forward style that complements the depth of its malt flavor, Porter features cozy holiday notes of cocoa and coffee.
Shop Sierra Nevada Porter
Available starting in December
Now you’re set with a variety of beers for the season. But while some of them are available year-round, others are here and gone like the holidays. Stock up and savor them while you can.