25 Christmas beers to bring to the table during the holidays

25 Christmas beers to bring to the table during the holidays

Christmas beers or Kerstbier are the ideal drink to crown the festive table: here are 25 Italian Christmas beers to try this year.

Hearing about Christmas beers , the less experienced might think of a mere commercial gimmick to take advantage of the time of year when there is a greater propensity to spend.kerstbier have a high alcohol content and sweet tendencyIn reality, it is an ancient tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, well established in countries with a great brewing vocation and in particular in Belgium. The Kerstbier , in Flemish, although they cannot be considered a real beer style, have some common characteristics: high alcohol content , sweet tendency and a good dose of spices.which enrich an already broad and complex aromatic profile. With the craft beer revolution, which also involved countries less familiar with malts and hops, the custom of special productions for the end of year festivities has taken hold almost everywhere, including Italy. The most recent trend, however, sees a departure from Kerstbier’s original idea : in some cases spices and a high alcohol content do not seem an inviolable dogma and you can see Christmas labels on bottles containing beers of quite another type.


Among the great classics, a true fetish for fans, there is the legendary Stille Nacht by De Dolle . Waiting for a taste of the new crush every year is spasmodic among beer geeks . The most obsessed jealously keep bottles from previous vintages in the cellar, in order to appreciate their evolution during real verticals. There is no shortage of events entirely dedicated to these beers: the most important and long-lived is obviously held in Belgium, in Essen, a town on the border with Holland. The appointment with the Kerstbierfestival 2018 is scheduled for the weekend of 15 and 16 December , when 200 winter beers will be available.


On the same weekend, in Rome , the thirteenth edition of Birre Sotto l’Albero will arrive , the review hosted by the two locals opposite in via Benedetta in Trastevere: Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa and Bir & Fud . The first will offer an international selection while, from the plugs of the second, exclusively Italian productions will be tapped. Without presumption of completeness, in random order but with an eye to numerology, here are 25 homemade Christmas beers that deserve a taste.


  1. kerstKerst – Extraomnes . The volcanic Luigi D’Amelio , aka Schigi, is undoubtedly one of the most talented Italian interpreters of the Belgian tradition. Since 2010 he has been bringing out authentic Christmas masterpieces from fermenters, simply labeled Kerst. It is a Belgian Strong Ale of over 10 degrees, brewed with Trappist yeast, whose recipe includes the addition of organic apple juice concentrate while boiling, capable of giving a certain acidity that lightens the drink. Curiously, it is produced in January, immediately after the Christmas holidays, because it needs a fairly long time to ripen. A cotta, every year is put in barriques (from Castello di Fonterutoli, southern Chianti area) and after an aging that can vary from 6 to 8 months, it becomes Kerst Reserva with indication of the vintage. Three 2018 barriques, which were particularly appreciable,
  2. ndm-jjNdM – Jungle Juice Brewing . NdM or Christmas of M … In short, we understand each other. Umberto Calabria, the Grinch of Italian craft beer, has achieved something far removed from the Belgian Christmas, in style and ingredients: it is in fact a spice-free Imperial Stout. Interesting is the play of the bank with the Roman pastry Nero Vaniglia which produces a panettone in which the aromas and scents of the NdM are recreated.
  3. Rossa del Gallo aged in cask – Sant’Andrea Brewery . Even Birrificio Sant’Andrea plays to match its own Christmas by aiming at an intriguing triangulation: the strong bitter Rossa del Gallo, aged for a year in cask, will accompany an artisan panettone in whose mixture there is the Hellerice, barley wine always of the Vercelli brewery.
  4. Sour Eve – Babylon . Adriano Giulioni decided to lower the ph on Christmas Eve with a sour ale with pomegranate and orange peel. The acidity makes it easier to drink; on the nose, in addition to those of the raw materials, there are also fruity and spicy notes of Belgian yeast.
  5. keepRock Noel – The Keep . Let’s stay in the Marche for a declared winter beer and not only because of the alcohol content: a Belgian Strong Ale with the addition of typically Christmas spices: cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Produced in February of each year, it is ready to be tasted during the Christmas holidays, although another year in the cellar would be good for it. Stock it up for Christmas 2019.
  6. bloody-xmas-the-forge-and-cantaloopBloody XMas – Cantaloop & La Fucina . During the holidays, you can spend time with family and friends. The two Molise breweries have taken this spirit of sharing literally by creating, for the fifth year, a rather unusual Christmas collaboration beer due to the use of passion fruit, orange peel, ginger and lime.
  7. amiata-san-niccSan Niccolò – Amiata . The Cerullo brothers’ Christmas could only be dedicated to the patron saint of Arcidosso, the town where the Amiata brewery stands: that San Niccolò (aka San Nicola di Bari) who somehow inspired the figure of Santa Klaus. Enriched with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cocoa and black pepper, it is a fairly classic Kerstbier , refermented in the bottle and put on the market at least 12 months after production.
  8. Platinum – Maltese Cross . Another canonical example is the Platinum by Croce di Malto: 8 alcoholic degrees well supported on an aromatic level, characterized by fruity notes and a pleasant spiciness that also recurs in the mouth, where the balance between the malty components and the hopping reigns. To go big, 12-liter magnums were also made in the past …
  9. agreste-front-2018-1Agreste Fidelis – Freelions . The Viterbo brewery for holy feasts does not skimp on spices: cinnamon, ginger, juniper, cardamom, pink pepper, coriander and cloves. In the mouth intense bitterness and very persistent balsamic, round body for this powerful beer that reaches almost 9 degrees of alcohol.
  10. Primatia – Birranova . Donato Di Palma di Birranova never misses an opportunity to link his productions to the territory and has invented this 9 degree Dubbel, flavored with cooked figs, a traditional reduction used to season the Cartellate, a typical Apulian Christmas dessert.
  11. birr-del-vultureCelestial Shock – Vulture Brewery . During the winter nights, in Basilicata, temperatures drop easily even around zero. What better way to warm up than with a full-bodied and well-spiced Christmas Ale? In her Celestial Shock, Ersilia D’Amico has inserted ginger and bergamot peel and strongly recommends drinking it in front of a nice lit fireplace.
  12. noel-di-turbacciNoel – Turbacci Brewery . One of the first Italian Kerstbiers: Giovanni Turbacci in fact began to produce it in 2000. Ruby red color releases floral aromas and notes of orange peel and coriander. The ethyl note is evident and makes it suitable for pairing with great Christmas leavened products.
  13. noel-licorice-baladinNoel Licorice – Baladin . Every three years, Teo Musso changes the Nöel recipe. After the chocolate, coffee and vanilla versions, for Christmas 2018 it reconfirms the licorice version produced for the first time in 2017. Friar’s tunic brown color, it is a beer that plays on the balance between the sweet and bitter component. In addition to the licorice aroma, there are notes of dried fruit, chocolate and biscuit. The dry hopping (cold hopping) finally gives citrus and refreshing hints.
  14. Poinsettia – Troll . Continuing with the longest-running breweries, let’s go to Troll. The Christmas Star is the classic meditation beer, with an alcohol content of over 10 degrees, it is dark, soft and full-bodied, with intense hints of malt, with notes of roasted and cocoa. In a word: exaggerated!
  15. hilltopChristmas Morning Mild – Hilltop . A choice diametrically opposed to the tradition of Christmas Ale, that of Hilltop which brewed, for the second year, a Dark Mild of only 3.2 degrees, free of spices. As the name suggests, it is the beer to drink on Christmas morning. Despite this, thanks to the skilful use of malts and flaked cereals, it has a good body and hints of caramel, dried fruit and molasses reminiscent of the panettone dough.
  16. oxianaComète – Oxiana . Another young Lazio brewery, Oxiana produces a very interesting Quadrupel. La Comète 2018 is embellished with cranberries, Bourbon vanilla beans and Sichuan pepper. Natural accompaniment to the most classic desserts of the period: it is a meditation beer and particularly suitable for aging in bottles.
  17. Moonrise – Civil . Inspired by the classic abbey and Trappist beers, Civale’s Moonrise is particularly drinkable despite its 9 degrees of alcohol. Good aromatic complexity thanks to the yeast used and the addition of spices such as coriander and orange peel. In the mouth the sweet tendency is balanced by a discreet hopping.
  18. reindeer-gluhTo Renna Glüh – LoverBeer . Valter Loverier is one of the most respected brewers in the world, his production philosophy tends to reconcile the recovery of ancient brewing traditions with the use of products from the Piedmont area. Fruit, wooden passages and mixed or wild fermentations often come into play in its productions. Starting from a DuvaBeer base, made with a percentage of Freisa grape must, A Renna Glüh is enriched with a good dose of typically winter spices. Curiously, it can be drunk around 10 ° or even hot, like a mulled wine: it is interesting to note the significant change in terms of aromas and taste depending on the serving temperature.
  19. lholmiaWinter Duck – L’Olmaia Brewery . Another brewer inspired by mulled wine is Moreno Ercolani: also this year he created his Winter Duck, a dark 8 degrees Strong Belgian Ale, characterized by a complex mix of spices: cinnamon, cloves, orange peel , ginger, coriander and pink pepper. Everything is ground and inserted in the last phase of boiling for 15 minutes.
  20. Santu Miali – Cagliari Brewery . Once again the name of a Marco Secchi beer derives from that of a locality in the Sardinian capital: in this case the homage is to the San Michele district. Seasonal Belgian Strong Ale, is brewed once a year, has a deep gold color and a good aromatic bouquet with floral and honey notes, good body and a tendentially sweet taste.
  21. Nadâl – Leaves of grass . The good Gino Perisutti, starting as always from the water of the Friulian Dolomites, this year added a little spice to his Nadâl. The result is a dubbel made with an intriguing but moderate addition of black tea, vanilla and saffron. The alcohol content is just under 8 degrees.
  22. almond-22Christmas Cru – Almond ’22 . Abruzzo meets Northern Europe in this Christmas version of the Almond ’22 Grand Cru, fermented with Montepulciano wine yeasts and enriched with spices typical of Scandinavian winter sweets. In the mouth it has notes of caramel, chocolate, fruit in syrup and licorice. There is no lack of vinous hints. The ideal combination is with dry pastries, cheeses but also grilled red meats.
  23. maiellaBucephalus of Christmas – Maiella Brewery . Another Abruzzo brewery, another beer in which there is the hand of Montepulciano, in this case in the form of cooked must. Furthermore, in the Christmas version of Bucephalus, there is no shortage of the most classic spices: vanilla, cinnamon, coriander and orange peel.
  24. Panamanà – Perugia Beer . If this beer were a cinepanettone, it could be called Christmas in the Caribbean. On the occasion of the holidays, the guys from Birra Perugia presented a Coffee Imperial Stout made in collaboration with the Panamanian colleagues of La Rana Dorada, who brought the precious Geisha coffee beans to Umbria.
  25. twenty-fiveVenticinque / 25 – Small Clandestine Brewery . The Piccolo Birrificio Clandestino of Livorno aims for originality, as regards the style of reference. La Venticinque / 25 by Pierluigi Chiosi is in fact a Wheat Wine: that is, something similar to a Barley Wine, but produced with a significant percentage of malted wheat. The recipe, which has changed over the years, currently includes American yeasts and hops and the addition of honey. What makes each cotta unique is the choice of the type of honey, which this year fell on that of eucalyptus.

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