Big-bottle sharing beers for Christmas and New Year’s

For something a bit special pick up a few 750ml beer bottles for offering around

Belgian brew: you can’t go wrong with Chimay, and many of its beers come in 750ml bottles

Belgian brew: you can’t go wrong with Chimay, and many of its beers come in 750ml bottles

 

Big beers in big bottles are perfect for sharing around the Christmas table or for ringing in the new year. Stronger alcohol and complex flavours usually come with a higher price, though – another good reason for sharing, comparing tastes and serving in smaller glasses.

Belgian brewers are particularly good at their complex yet drinkable beers, and you’ll find a good selection in Irish off-licences. You can’t go wrong with Chimay, and many of its beers come in 750ml bottles. De Ranke XX Bitter is a favourite of mine: it’s like a high-alcohol saison, dry, hoppy and bitter. Deus, made by the Bosteels brewery, is another perfect one for special occasions: it’s dry, light and fruity – and looks particularly good in champagne glasses.

Holly King Imperial Stout is made by the Cork brewery 8 Degrees as part of its Wild Ballyhoura series of winter beers. Aged in French oak Pinot Noir barrels, it’s made with a wild Brett – or Brettanomyces – yeast and has lots of cherry, vanilla and dark roast flavours and comes in at 9.5 per cent alcohol.

The White Hag brewery has a 7.2 per cent Christmas Ale called Yule that was aged in bourbon barrels. Its bottles have a green-wax top that will look great at the table.

Although they’re not in bigger bottles, Dot Brew beers regularly push the boat out with experimental styles and blends of flavours. Try the brewery’s collaboration with Hope brewery, a rich, smooth and full-bodied Imperial Oatmeal Stout at 9.5 per cent. Or Dot’s Bourbon Amber, which is part of the brewery’s range of limited-edition winter beers and was aged in a bourbon cask and finished in a Jamaican dark-rum barrel. It’s got layers of burnt caramel and malty roasted flavours and a lovely alcohol warmth – perfect for sipping by the fire.

@ITbeerista, beerista@irishtimes.com

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