Typically strong, malty, and full-bodied, holiday beers have a history as deep as their flavors. As far back as the Viking days, Scandinavians drank beer at the winter solstice, and medieval monks brewed a potent beer to celebrate the birth of Christ. The English made mulled beers in winter, as we would cider. The 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys drank his beer hot and infused with sugar and ginger, the spice actually a remnant of an older tradition that harkened back to the days before hops were commonly used to flavor and preserve beer. Though we drink them chilled, today's holiday season brews tend to be spiced as well. With notes of cinnamon, pine, and chocolate, plus a lingering boozy kiss, they go great with game, cheeses, and desserts.
Photo Credit: Ingalls Photography