Ordinarily naming your beer “Fantastic” would be an act of hubris. Yet when the beer in question was the creation of Beachwood and Societe, both justifiably famed for their hoppy expressions, then it is instead an act of straight-faced honesty. Brewed and canned off at Societe’s facility on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, this West Coast IPA is hopped with Mosaic and Idaho 7 for that ineffable combination of overripe pineapple, apricot and firm bitterness.
Rothaus Tannenzäpfle | German Pilsner, 5.3%
I first encountered Rothaus Tannenzäpfle while living in Germany in my early 20s – since then it has become one of my favorite beers of all time. Originating from the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Baden-Wüttemberg, this southwestern German Pilsner has a soft-water rounded malt profile capped off with a perfectly balanced touch of bitterness on the back end. Though ideal for year-round consumption, it is also arguably the most seasonally appropriate Pils for the wintertime, as Tannenzäpfletranslates to “pine cone” (as depicted on the label’s woodcut-style iconography) and has the same word-stem as Tannenbaum… i.e. Christmas tree!
Lost Abbey | Gnoël de Abbey | Winter Warmer, 8.5%
Seemingly a portmanteau of “gnome” and “Noël” – the former referring to the diminutive bearded men populating the snow-covered label art – this beer hits the shelves like clockwork every December. A spiced and lightly oaky imperial brown ale, with an intriguing mélange of piloncillo, peppery yeast and plump raisins in the aroma profile. High carbonation and some earthy coffee undertones tie it all together. Joyeux Noël!