Editor's Note: To help you get in the spirit, we'll spend the first 12 days of December sipping Christmas beers and winter warmers and reporting back on how they taste. Got a favorite wintertime brew? Add your recommendations in the comments.
With a pudgy Santa embracing a forthy glass of beer on the label, you might expect De Ranke Père Noël to go all-out winter spices on you, but it's really a Belgian strong pale ale—a creamy, hoppy beer for lovers of Belgian IPAs. It clocks in at 7% ABV, and we like it quite a bit.
This beer is deliciously malty and smooth, with a bright orange fruitiness accentuated by the yeast. Think roasted oranges, with hints of kumquats and dried apricots, and a seriously dry bitterness on the finish. This earthy beer has hints of coriander, but isn't spiced in Christmas beer style...if clove and cinnamon are what you're looking for, go elsewhere. But if you are looking for a fruity, malty, strong pale ale that's fit for winter, give this a try. Think of it as a ray of sunshine cracking through the clouds on a snowy day.
If you're thinking fancy, serve with a roast goose or roast duck at a holiday dinner party; the crisp skin is perfectly complemented by the smooth caramel malt, and the hops will cleanse your palate after each bite. Or just crack this one open and order Chinese takeout—they're awesome together.