Best Holiday Craft Beers

Published on October 26th 2023 by SNBC

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.

What Are The Best Beers For Winter?

Embrace The Cold With Dark, Full-Bodied And Hearty Craft Beer

Dark styles like stout and porter are sort of like the sweaters of craft beer, their roasty flavors beckoning you with their warmth come winter. Some dark beers even take after holiday baked goods, infused with wintry spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or clove. They headline our super rare Spiced Barrel-Aged Bigfoot, which also uses orange peel to dial up its complexity. And while we’ve got some darker beers in the list below, there are other styles (and colors!) that say “holiday beer” in their own ways.

Our Favorite Holiday Beers

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.

    1. Celebration IPA
    2. Barrel-Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout
    3. Hazy Little Thing IPA
    4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
    5. Bigfoot Barleywine (Vertical 12-Pack)
    6. Sierra Nevada Porter

Celebration Fresh Hop IPA

Give the gift of fresh hops.

Available October–December

A pint glass, can, and six-pack of Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA

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 holiday flavors like citrus, pine, and a dash of 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.

Find Celebration IPA

 

Barrel-Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout

Dessert beer to go with your other dessert.

Available year-round

Pouring a can of Barrel-Aged Narwhal into a glass that sits atop a barrel

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 a craft beer 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.

Find Barrel-Aged Narwhal

 

Hazy Little Thing IPA

Raise a pint with your hometown crew.

Available year-round

Two cans of Hazy Little Thing IPA meeting in a toast

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.

Find Hazy Little Thing

 

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

If they refuse it, they aren’t your real family.

Available year-round

A bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale crowdsurfing atop more beer bottles

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.

Find Pale Ale

 

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale Vertical Pack

A rare lineup, out of hibernation in our cellar.

Available exclusively online. Shipping to select states, while supplies last.

Seven bottles of Bigfoot Barleywine, each from a different release year

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 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2022. Then grab the fresh 2024 batch in January and experience this beast at max intensity.

Shop the Bigfoot Vertical 12-Pack

 

Sierra Nevada Porter

A roasty reward for the daily grind.

Available exclusively online starting in mid-November. Shipping to select states, while supplies last.

A six-pack of Sierra Nevada Porter on top of a malt mill

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 mid-November

Try the Best Holiday Beers of the Season

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.

Find Holiday Beers

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