What to Drink for the Holidays: Ideas from a Few of Our Favorite Brewers

Whether you part with an alarming amount of your hard-earned dollars to fly across the country and visit 35 of your closest family members, cozy up on your couch in your favorite sweats, or any kind of celebration in between, the holidays are a special time of year. And they deserve--or rather, you deserve--a special drink.

The holidays are a celebration of whatever you want them to be, but they are a celebration. Maybe that’s of family, of friends, of homemade food, of winter wonderlands, or the simple fact that you made it through another hellscape of a year. As challenging as 2021 still was, you’ve got to say, “cheers!” to the fact that you got here, and that we’re a little further along than we were in 2020--hopefully, this means you at least had the option of traveling or gathering with loved ones if you wanted to. 

A celebration of this level demands a beverage that’s up to the festive task, whether that means it’s your all-time favorite drink or a serious contender to be your new favorite. Holidays are about traditions, whether that’s honoring old ones or creating new ones, and the right drink has the power to become an essential part of your merry-making for years to come. It might be a beer that pairs perfectly with your mom’s famous spinach dip, or a cider that your entire friend crew swoons for, or a seltzer that just hits right while you’re marathon-ing movies on the couch. So, for a little inspiration on drink-shopping--and, importantly, drink-enjoying--we’re turning to a few of our favorite brewers. They’re sharing their own traditions and favorite beverages, and these ideas have us seriously ready to raise a glass, can, or bottle.

 

Tara Hankinson, Co-Founder of TALEA Beer Co.

Tara Hankinson and LeAnn Darland built TALEA on beers that push the envelope on what beer can be. From their flavors to their aromas to even their colors, TALEA beers invite wine, cider, and cocktail drinkers to the table with thought-provoking yet accessible and refreshing flavor combos and balances. With such a deep understanding of flavor complements and contrasts, perhaps it’s no surprise that co-founder Tara looks to a little light mixology for the holidays, with an approach that perfectly summons the spirit of the season.

“I love making spirit-forward punches like dark rum with apple cider and cinnamon syrup,” Tara . We’re already dreaming of the coziest of cozy friend gatherings, drinking Tara’s go-to by a fire. It just so happens, too, that TALEA’s Cranberry Orange Splash, a sour, captures spicy, tart fruit flavors found in winter warmers like mulled wine, making it another must-have for your aforementioned gatherings.

 

Jon Moore, Co-Founder of Loyal Brands Gay Beer

“Always something sparkling,” Gay Beer co-founder Jon muses of his essential holiday beverage. “Dry champagne or sparkling orange wine are on my list this year.”

Sparkles do feel necessary for the holidays, don’t they? Something about those bubbles, especially in a golden sipper that’s been associated with glam parties for decades like champagne, just feels up to the task of elevating any occasion. And a sparkling orange wine is just a fresh, exciting take on that very concept.

You know what else is sparkles? Beer, especially the gilded Gay Beer Golden Lager. With just a touch of grain sweetness, Gay Beer is crisp, clean, and refreshing. It’s versatile enough to pair with truly any dish at your holiday dinner, and offers a light and easy-drinking counter to heavier fare. And Gay Beer poured into a champagne flute? Stunning.

 

Robby Willey, Co-Founder at The Virginia Beer Company

“I can’t get enough of our Evil Santa Spiced Milk Stout during this time of year!” Virginia Beer Company co-founder Robby says. “We joke that it's always ‘Stout Season’ as we always have Elbow Patches Oatmeal Stout available, but starting in November we usher in the return of our seasonal spiced milk stout brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and milk sugar. It's creamy and warming, and only available through the holiday season.”

The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Double Evil Santa counts everyone (over 21, of course) on its “nice list.” It’s gifting us all with sweetness, spice, warmth, lushness, balanced decadence, and just the right amount of booziness. It’s no wonder Robby counts this beer as a holiday tradition--its ingredients and barrel-aging make it a truly special treat ready to instantly liven the party or even wind down after a lively dinner. And when you consider its perfect name and branding, this brew is just a must, and even a great gift idea.

 

Dimitri Yogaratnam, CEO of Oslo Brewing Company

Oslo Brewing Company CEO Dimitri treated us to different holiday drink ideas for all occasions and tastes. There’s the pairing:

“In Norway, my wife’s family has always eaten Pinnekjøtt (cured lamb ribs). Most Norwegian Christmas traditions go back a long way. Really salty, delicious ribs; of course beer is perfect with this, but what you must have is a shot of aquavit. That makes the meal!”

We love to learn a new pairing from a different part of the world, and that combo sounds out of this world. Dimitri also has some beer traditions, explaining that he favors dark lagers and that Oslo’s eclectic repertoire extends to a lovely Christmas amber he reaches for at this time of year.

“Besides that, I love sipping on rum during the holidays--sweet and luxurious,” Dimitri adds, rounding out these recs with a spirit suggestion. Rum is a great spirit to have on hand for the holidays, thanks to all of the indulgent, warming cocktails it’s ideal for--like Tara from TALEA’s punch!

 

Kevin Wong, Co-Founder of Lunar Hard Seltzer

Ready for another holiday tradition from a different part of the world? Lunar co-founder Kevin has you covered with an idea that’s time-honored in Sweden, but could be a fresh new favorite for us here.

“I've been drinking Swedish glögg over the holidays ever since a good friend introduced it to me. It's a lovely mix of red wine, port, brandy, and spices that keep you warm inside and out! This year, I've started incorporating a cup of Lunar Yuzu Hard Seltzer which adds a lot of citrus dimension to it. Highly recommend!”

To get started on your own glögg journey, check out this recipe from Bon Appetit. And don’t forget the Lunar Yuzu Hard Seltzer! It’s a great way to blend old and new when it comes to tradition, and because glögg has things like orange zest and ginger, the bright citrus nature of the hard seltzer will really make those flavors sing.

 

Michelle, Marketing Ops Coordinator at Willie’s Superbrew

Willie’s Superbrew is a hard seltzer brand proving just how year-round hard seltzer can be. Their portfolio of artfully blended flavors, all made with only real ingredients, are all effortlessly tasty and refreshing whether they’re cooling you down on a hot summer day or spicing things up on a cold winter evening. The Ginger & Lemon Superbrew packs a little heat, a little sweetness, a little tartness, and a lot of effervescent “aaah” factor. It’s plenty celebratory enough on its own for the holidays, and ideal for session enjoyment when you’re spending the entire day and night with friends or family. But Marketing Ops Coordinator Michelle has even another way to enjoy this variety: a cocktail. Michelle says the “Whiskey Willie is “the perfect balance of warming and refreshing.” We’re in.

Whiskey Willie:

  • 1 part bourbon
  • ¼ part lemon juice
  • 4 parts Ginger & Lemon Superbrew
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish

Simply pour in these ingredients as listed and voila!

 

James Crooks, VP of Sales & Marketing at Narragansett Brewing Co.

James at Narragansett says he likes “a good holiday ale or winter warmer. This year, our ‘Gansett Holiday Ale is like a Belgian dubbel, with sweet orange, and coriander.”

Dark Belgian-style beers are an absolute dream for the holidays. They combine flavors so reminiscent of classic holiday treats, they basically capture the inviting taste and smells of the season in a bottle. Think dark, dried fruits, spices, a subtly sweet and moody malt profile balanced by a dry finish, and a touch of perfumey, boozy warmth. It’s mulled wine, it’s sticky toffee pudding, it’s fruitcake. Goose Island’s Madame Rose is Belgian-style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels. It promises to achieve all that holiday wonder in an elegant, soiree-worthy format.

 

John Ross Cocozza, Founder & President of Ross Brewing 

“Most of our family’s traditions actually center on Christmas Eve, with the legendary Feast of Seven Fishes,” Ross Brewing founder John tells us. “Course after course of fantastic seafood, lovingly made over a span of three days in our kitchen. Everyone has a job, even the kids! When the Eve arrives and it’s time to eat, the two most prominent accompaniments to the fish are a nice flinty Chablis, and copious amounts of champagne.

“But during the pre-meal hors d’oeuvres hour and again during the year-long-anticipated dessert hour, our Holiday Punch rules the roost. Cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, ginger ale, almond extract, prosecco, frozen berries, citrus slices--it’s the whole shebang!”

We love the scene John is painting--we’re RSVPing “yes” to this incredible sounding affair if anyone’s asking. From wine pairing inspiration to that amazing punch, we’ve definitely got some fresh holiday ideas up our sleeves now. Of course, John didn’t forget about beer. Ross happens to have a knack for capturing different seasons in different brews, like their Harvest Cider. The Brux Royale Belgian Chocolate Stout is a special treat for any gathering, and would complement an eagerly awaited dessert hour just like John’s family has.

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