Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…and now infused into Virginia holiday brews! That may not be exactly how the lyrics go, but if they did, maybe more people would know what a chestnut tastes like. Luckily for you, some of Virginia’s breweries have experimented with this holiday flavor, along with many other seasonally-inspired ingredients, to craft delicious Yuletide beverages. Head to the breweries below to sample these 25 festive craft brews that help you get into the spirit of the season.
Lights Out Holiday Ale—Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton
Lights Out Holiday Ale features a deep, malty flavor and a spiciness that comes from the earthy hops used in the brewing process. Finished with a medium-body texture from the rolled oats.
Gingerbread Stout—Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond
One of Virginia’s most well-known holiday beers, Gingerbread Stout is an imperial milk stout brewed with locally sourced ginger and honey. The resulting beer has a velvety texture and flavors of chocolate, bourbon vanilla, honeycomb, and cinnamon, with a snap of ginger at the end.
Christmas Morning—Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond
Another creation of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Christmas Morning is an imperial milk stout made with spices and coffee. Using locally roasted coffee beans, the brew contains hints of sweet honey and oven-baked gingerbread with tones of freshly brewed morning coffee.
Kentucky Christmas Morning—Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond
Hardywood’s Kentucky Christmas Morning transforms into a rich brew over months of aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The resulting flavor carries forward notes of vanilla, coconut, and toasted oak. Just before the bottling process, the beer is cold filtered over locally roasted coffee beans.
Peppermint Brown Ale—Right Turn, Clyde Brewing in Narrows
It comes as no surprise that Right Turn, Clyde won brewing awards for this seasonal craft beer, which brings to mind cozying up to a warm fireplace as snow falls outside.
Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager—Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet
A full-bodied winter brew, Starr Hill Brewery’s Snow Blind Doppelbock finishes with an enormous caramel aroma and lightly roasted malt. Upon the first sip, your taste buds will experience the sweetness of the lager, but the finishing notes are clean and crisp.
Xocoveza—Stone Brewing Company in Richmond
We still aren’t 100% sure that we’re saying this right (Zo-co-vey-za?), but this beer is a winter spice mocha stout that echoes a cup of delicious Mexican hot chocolate. You’ll recognize flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, coffee, and milk, with a hint of chili peppers.
Nut Quacker—Back Bay Brewing in Virginia Beach
Back Bay Brewing seasonally releases Nut Quacker, a brown ale with forward malt flavors of the plum, caramel, and citrus hops. The craft beer tastes exactly like the holidays, with just a hint of spice and the richness you expect in a traditional brown ale.
Oatlands—Corcoran Brewing Company in Purcellville
Oatlands takes the typical oatmeal stout and adds a twist of fresh spices and an extra full body. You’ll recognize notes of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in this incredible oatmeal ginger stout.
Yule Log Not Included—Heritage Brewing Co. in Manassas
Brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh ginger root, and orange rind add holiday spice to Yule Log Not Included, a winter ale from Heritage Brewing Company. Complex in fragrance and flavor, the beer is the perfect companion to the twinkling lights and warm cheer of the holidays.
Holiday Helper—Smartmouth Brewing Company in Norfolk
Holiday Helper is a dry-hopped red ale that boasts a sweet yet spicy aroma. Chocolate and caramel malts balance the rye flavors, creating a clean and smooth brew. Pair it with hearty fall dishes like a big pot of chili or a rich beef stew.
Krampus Smoked Porter—Rusty Beaver in Ruther Glen
Choosing a darker name to reflect the deep hue of the brew, Rusty Beaver’s Krampus Smoked Porter blends holiday spices and smoke malt flavors to produce a unique seasonal beer.
Chill Chaser Spiced Chocolate Stout—The River Company Restaurant in Radford
This stout is brewed with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, chipotle, and cayenne peppers to create a wonderful taste of the holidays. It is available on draft at the restaurant and to go in growlers.
Winter Scotch—St. George Brewing Co. in Hampton
St. George Brewing Company created a full-bodied ale with strong malt flavors and delicate notes of hops. The Winter Scotch ale has a dark copper color and a lingering taste of peat smoke. Drink in front of a crackling fireplace to get the full effect.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Stout—Tin Cannon Brewing Co. in Gainesville
The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Stout from Tin Cannon is a strong American Stout that mixes holiday spices with the flavor of rum-soaked raisins. Leave the sweet holiday cookies at home; this craft beer is a much better holiday party gift.
Ginger Snap Amber Ale—Tin Cannon Brewing Co. in Gainesville
Tin Cannon Brewing Company combines pale and caramel malts with ginger, molasses and spices in their seasonal brew, the Ginger Snap Amber Ale. The spices are not overpowering, and the hops stay in the background, resulting in a delicious and easily drinkable holiday treat.
Ginger Brau—Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland
This honey-hued lager is brewed with three different types of ginger, culminating in a light to medium body beer with a dynamic ginger finish. It’s a nice alternative for those who don’t enjoy the porters and stouts common during the winter months.
Mary Washington’s Gingerbread—Adventure Brewing in Fredericksburg
Based on Mary Washington’s famous gingerbread recipe, this seasonal offering from Adventure Brewing imitates the ginger, raisin, and dry sweetbread flavors of a traditional gingerbread. The brewery collaborates with the nearby Mary Washington House in Fredericksburg to release this holiday-themed beverage.
Bobsled Winter Ale—Adventure Brewing in Fredericksburg
Skip shopping on Black Friday and instead head to Adventure Brewing for the release of Bobsled Winter Ale, a spiced amber ale brewed with orange peel, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger.
Winterbock—Gordon Biersch Brewery in Mclean
This German-style doppelbock has a deep mahogany color, strong German malts, and a touch of spicy hops, bringing to mind the traditional flavors of pumpernickel bread with hints of caramel, dates, and a smoky-sweet aftertaste. The brew’s versatile nature allows it to pair with almost any holiday meal.
Chinquapin Chestnut Porter—Old Bust Head Brewing Co. in Vint Hill
The full-bodied richness in the Chinquapin Chestnut Porter from Old Bust Head Brewing Company comes from the real chestnuts used in the brewing process. A blend of dark malts adds a roasted flavor, with a dash of cocoa and coffee.
Tidings Ale—Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria
Made with local wildflower honey and wheat, Tidings Ale is a strong Belgian-style blonde ale. It is brewed with coriander, cardamom, and ginger, bringing out a spicy aftertaste that warms you up during the cold winter months.
Gingersnap Brown Ale—Quattro Goomba’s Brewery in Aldie
Starting the day before Thanksgiving, head to Quattro Goomba to try their newly released Gingersnap Brown Ale, a holiday beer with all the spice flavors you expect from a gingerbread cookie.
Christmas Ale—Blue Lab Brewing Company in Lexington
Brewed with locally made apple butter, Blue Lab Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale has strong flavors of cinnamon and clove.
Wassail—Big Fish Cider Co. in Monterey
This isn’t technically a beer, but a holiday cider that is made using traditional mulling spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange peel, to complement its core apple essence.
It is important to note many of these are small batch brews that are only available at the respective breweries, and they may run out quickly due to popular demand. Contact the brewery before you visit to make sure these winter beers are still in stock.
Get into the holiday spirit when you sample a few of these seasonal beverages at craft breweries around Virginia, and let us know which brews are your favorite after you test them out!
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |