Hey, you know what always makes a great gift? Beer. Our local breweries have had a rough year, closing their taprooms and losing their restaurant sales. Regardless, they are still going strong and serving up some of the snazziest seasonal brews of the year, complete with clever names and cool labels. Because even if you’re home alone this Christmas, settling in on the couch with a doughnut and a cold one, and presumably putting Die Hard on for the thousandth time, let’s face it — lockdown is a downer, but they can never take away our dank West Coast IPA. Check out these festive seasonal brews.
Anchor Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing
Yes, it is now owned by Japanese giant Sapporo, but Anchor is still the oldest brewery in San Francisco, and the Christmas ale is a venerable tradition, with a secret recipe and hand-drawn tree on the label. This year’s version is extra dark and strong at 7 percent, with hints of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. And the brewery is offering sampler packs of Christmases past, if any beer nerds want to rack up a flight at home.
Winter Sweater Imperial Porter from Local Brewing Co.
This SoMa brewery is known for killer West Coast IPA, but they break out the sweaters and porters for the holiday season. They say the Winter Sweater smacks of graham crackers and vanilla beans. Buy it on its own, or get a mixed holiday four-pack.
Manzanita from Fort Point
The largest independent brewery in San Francisco has colorful cans in sleek geometric designs, and rolls out a few seasonal favorites. The Manzanita is in the style of a German rauchbier, but infused with charred manzanita branches, making it nutty and sweet, and sure to sell out fast. But even if you miss it, there are single- and double-hopped pale ales in green cans, too.
The Season 2020 from Harmonic Brewing
The Dogpatch brewery has a strong barleywine this season. Their annual holiday beer was made using local grains from Admiral Maltings, which they say taste of figs, plums, and caramel.
Cross Country Juicing from Cellarmaker
The beer and pizza authority has a festive new brew in collaboration with Other Half (based in Brooklyn) and Trillium (Massachusetts). Cross Country Juicing is a hazy double IPA which they say tastes of mojitos, pina coladas, and mango slurpees, which sounds like a lot of mixed cocktail metaphors? But it’s still worth getting in on those presales.
Ski Haus Lager from Barebottle
The Bernal Heights brewery has a very refreshing addition this holiday season. Ski Haus is a brand new winter lager that promises to be so clean and refreshing and that it even has goggles on the label. They also have gift packs with beanies and glasses.
Evening Vespers from Laughing Monk
This Bayview brewery is known for its Belgian-style ales, so if you are lonelier than a Trappist monk this holiday season, why not cozy up with Evening Vespers, their popular Dubbel ale, with notes of dried fruit, chocolate, and toffee.
Ugly Sweater IPA from Almanac
The Alameda brewery has two tempting seasonal brews. The Ugly Sweater IPA serves up mango, cantaloupe, and coconut notes, in a limited edition ugly-cute can, while the Bunny Hill IPA keeps it soft and clean with a pretty wintery design.
Scumbag from Ghost Town Brewing
This West Oakland brewery serves more of a metal holiday vibe. The Chills is a West Coast–style pilsner that snaps with grapes, passionfruit, and citrus. But for anyone who is really not feeling the festivities this year, the ultimate anti-Christmas gift would have to be Scumbag. It’s their cheapest taproom beer, now packaged in cans that look like crumpled paper bags. “Scumbag is for all the heroes eating Hot Pockets alone on Thanksgiving, just like last year,” the brewery says. It’s one way to get through a family holiday Zoom.