Although beer drinking may have you thinking about sitting on a warm patio in the summertime, there’s so much more to beer drinking than that. On top of enjoying beer to yourself, seasonal craft beer makes for a great holiday gift for the beer-lovers in your life.
We’ve asked the top local breweries for their tips and picks for enjoying seasonal brews and comforting flavours this holiday season. Let me tell you that putting together this article has certainly had me yearning to try every beer on this list!
2020 has made for some interesting changes to how breweries operate, so we’ve also made sure to let you know how you can try these beers for yourself. There’s quite a delicious list of choices here, so if you’re looking for variety, you’ll find no shortage of brews to get you through the season.
The Second Wedge has a lot of fun plans cooking up to celebrate the holiday season with beer this year. Their annual seasonal winter warmer, Spice Factory, was just released on November 17th. It has a rich body with the subtle spicing of ginger, nutmeg, orange peel, allspice and cinnamon, along with rich, specialty malts. It’s the perfect slow-sipper, coming in at 7.5% ABV, and serves as a tribute to Uxbridge’s downtown spice factory. The can also features artwork done by Uxbridge resident and artist, Tracy Walker. Enjoy this delicious beer by the fire, with a plate of shortbread cookies. Better yet, take it to the festive table and have it alongside a turkey dinner with stuffing, pecan pie or mixed nuts.
Seeing as the five year anniversary of the brewery is coming in December, The Second Wedge will be releasing their bourbon-barrel-aged Belgian Dubbel, Good Wood, very soon. The name is for the hamlet of Goodwood nearby, but also as a nod to the traditional gift of wood given on a fifth anniversary. You can expect a complex beer with high ABV that’s been long-aged, with notes of oak, toffee, dried fruit, nuts and a hint of bourbon. This beer is the perfect partner to a cheese and charcuterie board.
Keep an ear out for special celebratory activities taking place in honour of the five year anniversary coming up on December 28th. The brewery will be adapting to a virtual party this year. In addition to their beer, they’ll have some fun holiday merchandise in the store like adult onesies, toques and themed t-shirts. You can find Spice Factory at select LCBO stores throughout the winter, but both it and Good Wood are exclusively available at their retail store location. If you’re further from Uxbridge, The Second Wedge is also offering home delivery across Ontario. You can head to their website for more information.
5 Paddles releases their whiskey barrel aged English barley wine that they look forward to each year called Madness of Ophelia. It’s a strong beer, coming in at 10% ABV and boasting strong oak and whiskey notes, offset by notes of caramel and toasted biscuit. This beer is released every year on Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition for fans of the beer to come out and line up to get in time to be stuffed into a stocking. Owner Ian Mills says it’s best paired with “your choice of charcuterie and friends.”
If a stout is more your speed, Fashion Krampus is a gingerbread spiced imperial milk stout. It sits at 8.5% ABV, and has a blend of the strong spices of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves complimented by the sweet flavours of rich chocolate and coffee notes. It’s perfect for setting up the tree or warming up after being outside in the cold.
If you’re looking to get your hands on some of the beers from 5 Paddles, you can find their Home Sweet Home honey vanilla wheat at most LCBO’s and select Beer Stores in Durham Region. You can also head to the brewery for contactless pickup, arrange for free delivery across Durham Region or have it shipped across Ontario via Canada Post for a fee. Check out their website for more information.
One of Old Flame’s year-round core beers, Raven is a black lager that has aromas of dark chocolate, toffee, molasses and a hint of smoke. It has all the dark flavours of a stout, without the heavy body. Even if someone isn’t typically a fan of darker beers, this brew finishes light and smooth, making it the perfect beer to warm you as a snowstorm rages outside. It pairs great with braised short ribs, cranberry brie bites or pecan pie.
Cold Bru is a seasonal coffee stout. It has the tantalizing aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee, sometimes making it hard to tell whether this is a coffee or beer! It has a deep, mocha-coloured body, yet it’s surprisingly light and finishes smooth and dry. It pairs beautifully with creamy mashed potatoes, eggnog cranberry coffee cake or rum raisin balls.
Last but not least, Toque Season is a seasonal spiced lager. You’ll smell the warming spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger, but they don’t overpower the taste of the beer. This beer is hazy and copper in body and pairs perfectly with a full turkey dinner, pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie.
Their award-winning Hazy Blonde Kellerbier, their Red Vienna Lager and Brunette Munich Dunkel core beers are available in the LCBO. If you’re interested in some of their seasonal beers mentioned above, visit their online shop. Old Flame delivers locally for free on orders over $70 and ships orders across Ontario for a flat rate of $15.
If you’re looking to give an Old Flame Brewery gift this year, consider adding an item from their merch shop to your order. Their Vintage Crewnecks are extremely popular as a holiday gift, along with their Holiday Christmas Sweaters and Minimalist Tees. You can head to their website for more information.
All or Nothing has three delicious beers they’ve released newly this year, specifically designed to pair perfectly with the holidays. Firstly, their Pure Passion Oatmeal Stout is light in body and dark in colour, with notes of caramel and chocolate.
Their Slow & Steady Choco-Drop Pastry Stout is dark and velvety, with notes of caramel, cacao and lactose, with emphasis on the cacao. Also dark and velvety is their Slow & Steady Raspberry Truffle Stout, bursting with notes of ripe raspberries, toasty caramel and a milky finish. You’d be best to pair their darker beers with a yummy cherry cheesecake.
This year, All or Nothing is continuing a tradition they began last year, which is their pre-made gift baskets. They make the perfect gift for the beer lover in your life. If you’re just looking to get your hands on some of their beers this holiday season, your best bet is to visit the brewery yourself in their shop or by ordering curbside pickup. If you’re local to Oshawa, you can also order through Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes, but if you’re a little farther you can arrange to have their beers shipped province-wide via Canada Post.
Brock Street is releasing seven (believe it or not!) different beers this holiday season. Their Spiced Holiday Ale and Winter Spruce Lager were created to be paired with a full, traditional Christmas dinner, with all the fixings. Their Gingerbread Saison, Spiced Holiday Dunkel, Coffee Stout and Peppermint Stout are meant to be enjoyed as a dessert on their own, or alongside a rich black forest cake or strong cheese plate.
If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate with beers this holiday season, Brock Street is also offering a 12 pack holiday mix for their Brock Street Advent Beer Calendar. They release these advent calendars every year and include several different options to choose from. You can also order a holiday 12 pack gift basket, which will include 12 beers, two glasses, beer nuts and a Brock Street toque. If you order online during November and December, you’ll receive a voucher for 10% off all beer orders from January 1 to March 30, 2021.
You can find Brock Street’s main selection of beers at selected grocery stores and LCBO’s in Ontario. However, a much larger selection is available on their website, with free shipping options throughout the province.
Caledon Hills recently opened up their pub and outdoor patio for the first time, and they’re excited to share more of their new brews and winter plans with you soon. Keep an eye out for seasonal beer releases throughout the winter, including an Oatmeal Stout. For the time being, they have their RauchBier, which is a smoked dark beer. It pairs great with a German pretzel or a bratwurst on a bun.
Caledon Hills beers are available at select LCBO and Beer Stores. They also have takeout options for food (Wednesday Wing Nights!), and customers will soon be able to order food online. You can order and pick up beers at the brewery, or you can arrange for home delivery if that’s more your speed. You can visit their website or give them a call for more information.
So there you have it. The best of craft beers, from right here in our own backyard. Nowadays it’s especially important to think locally when it comes to buying gifts and trying beers out for yourself. Fortunately, we have some really incredible options available in the region, so there is certainly no losing when it comes to this game. Cheers!
Bri is a Toronto native who has spent many years living abroad, but has been happily reconnected with Ontario for the past three years. She loves writing about travel experiences in our beautiful province including all things nature, food and culture. You can find her canoeing and swimming across Ontario with a craft brew in her hand in the summer, and snowshoeing or curling up with a good book and an Ontarian Pinot Noir in the winter. Follow along on Instagram @mstravelingmitch.