Christmas beers to sip by the fireside

Mescan’s Beoir na Nollag kept in whiskey casks while Yule Christmas Ale has honey

Irish craft brewers have always been keen to get in on the tradition of Christmas beers.

Irish craft brewers have always been keen to get in on the tradition of Christmas beers.

 

 Christmas beer is something of a tradition among craft beer producers around the world and Irish craft brewers have always been keen to join in. Most of the beers I tried had levels of alcohol approaching those of wine; perfect for banishing the winter cold, but definitely not session beers. Eoin from Blackrock Cellar (one of the best beer shops in the country) pointed me in the direction of a few seasonal specialities; I also received a few samples from elsewhere. 

 I have written about Mayo brewery Mescan before but the intriguing full-bodied Beoir na Nollag, 8.8 per cent, (€4.40) would make a perfect stocking filler for the beer lover in your life. It spent a little time in whiskey casks.

In a similar vein Rye River Garnet Imperial Brown (€14.99 for a 75cl bottle) was aged in cognac barrels; it is rich and sumptuous and comes in at a warming 9.5 per cent. DOT Brew, mentioned a few weeks back, supply both Redmonds and Blackrock Cellar with their own-label Christmas beer. Joël’s Barrel-aged Vietnamese Coffee Stout (10.8 per cent, €5.65, Blackrock Cellar) is a powerful, rich, smooth and complex beer; one to sip by the fireside as you contemplate life. 

 On a different tack, The White Hag Yule Christmas Ale (7.2 per cent, €2.95/four for €10) is a malty red ale flavoured with honey, cinnamon and ginger; it works very well too. If that doesn’t appeal Dungarvan have a lighter (4.7 per cent) winter beer, the Coffee and Oatmeal Stout (€3.75), which has a lovely toasty edge. 

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