A Review of the Best Santa Themed Beers On the Market

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You’ll have to pardon me if my tone is a bit more somber than usual. I have weighty issues to broach with you. Sorry if that disappoints, but I can’t always be your fanciful court jester. I feel things, people.

clown
This picture is like a portal into my soul – lachrymose, scared and maybe just a wee bit homicidal

This is a chaotic time of year for most. With innumerable distractions afoot, it is hardly surprising that so many forget what this holiday season is supposed to be about. I believe it is my duty to use this forum to reach out to the faithful among us and spread the good news about the benevolent being who renews and redeems us all:

santaHallowed be his rosy red cheeks!

Santa IS Christmas. He is the bearer of all that is magical, the font from which all generosity and goodwill spring forth. He also gave me a F.A.N.G. helicopter when I was like 8-years-old, which was totally badass.

If you listen to religious leaders, mass media or effectively anyone but me, it’s unlikely you’ve heard this sentiment echoed elsewhere. I am far from alone in my beliefs though. Check out what I discovered with a simple CSI-style image enhancement of the New Jersey billboard that’s been making considerable furor in conservative media recently:

reason

Knowing I am not alone in my convictions, this holiday’s beer selections will do their part to celebrate St. Nick and all the happiness he has brought to the world. I was so caught up in the Clausmas spirit that I even set up a festive backdrop for the photos using one of my kid’s pieces of art. I thought it would add a sense of playful innocence to the pictures, but all it does is remind me how I’ve failed as a father:

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Not even Santa can forgive the slapdash construction of this ill-conceived POS

Sleigh’r (7.2% ABV) Ninkasi Brewing / Dark Double Alt Ale

ninkasiThis mahogany tribute to thrash metal is very moderate in its aromatics. It offers a bit of alcohol, some crusty bread notes and some spiced aromas as well. I guess you could say it’s a little like fruitcake. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s a compliment or not.

fruitcakeThere’s nothing like a tall glass of fruitcake

The flavor is roasty and peppery with a mellow, licorice component. It is moderately full in the mouth, but manages to finish dry with a gentle, lingering menthol tone that is very satisfying.

It’s a little more porter than alt, but it’s a very drinkable winter warmer. And you gotta love the audacity of a Christmas beer that references the band that wrote an album called “Christ Illusion”.

Grade: A-

Reindeer’s Revolt (6% ABV) – Ridgeway Brewing/English Strong Ale

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Even without tasting this I know it’s going to be good. The name says it all. Reindeer Revolt indicates some manner of animal mistreatment. If veal has taught us anything, it’s that suffering breeds deliciousness. It’s as if a tortured soul marinates the meat somehow.

This orange-tinted amber brew doesn’t command much of a head, but does summon considerable sudsy lacing around the glass. It smells kind of yeasty with hints of cornbread and the slightest hint of pine.

The flavors are mild, but certainly unique. It has a sweetness that I can only describe as butterscotch. It’s almost as if the flavor and cartoonish label were designed to market directly to children. That’s reprehensible if true, but I’d rather this be a gateway beer than my formative selection:

iceThis is what lies at the eye of my shame-spiral

There are some biscuity malts in the middle that soften the menthol touch delivered by the hops. It resolves dry and balanced.

This is not the profile of a traditional Winter Warmer beer, but I don’t think it is supposed to be. It does an admirable job as a English Strong Ale, delivering a sessionable, unique experience.

Grade: B

Santa’s Private Reserve (6% ABV) Rogue Brewery/American Amber Ale

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This is a light coppery ale with a tall stack of off-tan head. It produces the vibrant flowery, herbal and bready scents common with red ales.

The taste is hop-forward, but layered. It’s initially peppery and citrusy, but evolves into something with a spruce tone. I know what you’re thinking – didn’t he just reference pine earlier? The truth is, yes, I can differentiate the flavors among 35 different species of coniferous evergreens. If you truly loved beer you’d take the time to suck on the occasional tree as well.

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Pictured: A beer lover. Or a random freak.

The hops are countered by a fruity sweetness, but not diminished. It has a bit more bite to it than the average red, but I love the sticky, bitter finish it bestows.

This is yet another not-winter-warmer beer that delivers a potent, unique Clausmas experience.

Grade: B+

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