Christmas concoctions

By on December 14, 2016
‘Tis the season for seasonal brews, full enough of spice to rekindle the spirit of Christmas. Funck’s, in Leola, is a great place to sample a flight. (Photo by Michael Upton)

‘Tis the season for seasonal brews, full enough of spice to rekindle the spirit of Christmas. Funck’s, in Leola, is a great place to sample a flight. (Photo by Michael Upton)

Spring and summer have their wheat beers and Goses. Fall brings beer drinkers Oktoberfests. But winter is the time for truly seasonal beers, those full enough of spice to rekindle the spirit of Christmas.

Now, these libations are not for everyone, but I wanted to get a good grasp on what was out this time of year and there is no better place to find a wide variety than the 115 taps at Funck’s in Leola.

Blindly, I asked my server simply to pour me a flight of four Christmas beers and I got a healthy range of flavors. The first beer comes from a seasoned brewery in Colorado. Breckenridge Brewery’s Christmas Ale was my favorite ale. The beer is chocolatey with hints of caramel and is hoppier than any other Christmas ale I’ve ever had. It has a distinct and comfortable mouthfeel, which hides its ABV of 7 percent.

At first sip Rudolph’s Red from Rivertowne Brewing (Export, Pa.) was not my cup of tea, but after a few more tastes it started to grow on me. This red ale features vanilla and citrus notes, but it cannot hide the taste of alcohol emitting from this 8.1 percent ABV brew.

Next up was Southern Tier Brewing Company’s 2Xmas. Full of spices like nutmeg and clove, this eight percent ABV beer is the quintessential holiday brew … and I couldn’t stand it. Before now I never met a Southern Tier beer I didn’t like, but this was too much. The flavors were heavy and left a stain on the palate. According to the brewer, 2Xmas was inspired by Glogg, a European mulled wine. I say, let glogg be glogg, and beer be beer.

My server finished me off with a Tröegs Mad Elf. One needs to be cautious with this 11 percent ABV beer, seriously. I’ve witnessed unknowing servers offer up this drunk-maker in pint glasses just to have their customers sloshed after three beers. I don’t drink this beer often, maybe once every three years, but I understand they’ve changed the recipe slightly.

With my flight finished I wanted to try at least one more, so I ordered the holiday offering from Ballast Point Brewing. The San Diego-based brewery took their big, flagship porter and brewed it up with some peppermint. It’s a dessert beer for the Christmas meal!

Speaking of Christmas, I found a good stocking stuffer for beer fans. My friends up at Zeroday Brewing Company in Harrisburg have a deal going on for those who haven’t previously experienced their selection. They are running a Groupon for $22; it includes an empty souvenir growler (fills are extra) and a “beer tasting experience.” I checked in with co-owner Brandalynn Armstrong to get the details. The beer experience is a flight of six five-ounce pours from their selection of brews (I recommend Critical Condition, an eight percent ABV Imperial Amber ale, and D.T.F.-Douglas The Fir-saison, which is created by forcing an entire Christmas tree into the kettle; the unique brew will hopefully hit the taps before Christmas). An attentive and educated staff member will discuss the beers with the Groupon holder.

Cheers and thanks for reading — and Happy Holidays to all!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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