The best beers for Christmas gifts: taste tested
Instead of merely spreading Christmas cheer, how about Christmas “Cheers!”? Drinks expert Mark Dredge chooses the best beers for Christmas gifts. These aren’t midweek gluggers but the kind you sip and savour with a sigh… Cue fireside glow.
Give the gift of beer this year. I think all beer is special in its own way, but there are some especially special beers that have the power to change what you thought beer could be. Some of these bottles might remind you of champagne, others of natural wine, some of sherry, port or whisky, but all retain their essence of being a beer, with its depth of malt flavour, fragrant or bitter hops and the fruity liveliness of yeast.
Beer is so often seen as a casual drink, something served cold and enjoyed without thinking too much, and that’s part of its simple joy, but it can also be something much more than that – a powerful sensory experience that’s complex, enticing, unexpected and deserving of extra attention. Here are some beers that make a great gift for anyone who appreciates delicious things.
Five of the best beers to give at Christmas
For a fizz lover
Brasserie Dupont Avec Les Bon Voeux, Belgium 9.5%
This classic Belgian brew is a golden colour with a creamy foam. Expect flavours of almonds, pear, banana, lemon peel, panettone and spice, with big fizz and a rich mouthfeel. Vintage champagne meets Belgian beer. £12.50 for 750ml, hopburnsblack.co.uk.
For a booze adventurer
Boon Millésime, Belgium 6.5%
Ideal for natural wine lovers, this Belgian sour beer is made with schaarbeek cherries (a Belgian variety of morello). It’s a deep red colour with flavours of almond, vanilla, apple and lemon, with a funky tartness. Available from beermerchants.com (£14 for 750ml).
The collector’s choice
Chimay Grande Réserve, Belgium 9%
Brewed by Belgian monks, this brandy-like strong dark ale has Christmassy flavours of dried fruit, citrus peel and cinnamon. It will age nicely for a year or two – or enjoy it now with mince pies or blue cheese. Available from beermerchants.com (£13 for 750ml).
For a whisky fan
Wold Top Brewery Barrel Wave, England 8.5%
This Yorkshire-brewed English IPA is matured in barrels that were used previously to age whisky. It has aromas of vanilla cream, caramel, candied citrus and apple, with oak tannin and hop bitterness at the end. Available from Wold Top Brewery (£6 for 330ml).
For a chocolate lover
Marble Decadence, England 10.5%
An annual special from Manchester’s Marble brewery, this is a decadent imperial stout with flavours of cacao, dark chocolate, espresso, chestnut and dark fruit. It’s a worthy substitute for port or pedro ximénez sherry. Available from Marble Beers (£14.30 for 660ml).
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