Winter is upon us and with it the gift-giving season. To help you cross off the beer lovers on your list (or to sip yourself), I sat down with Utah Beer News contributor Dave Baker to taste some Utah holiday beers.
We settled on a six-pack from a variety of local breweries. These are perfect to take with you to your holiday gatherings, to sneak in a Christmas stocking, or to enjoy solo in front of a warm fire.
The majority of the beers listed below should be readily available around town. You might have to make a stop at the respective brewery and in perhaps one case (Kilted Harley), the limited-ness of the beer might mean the barrel-aged version no longer available.
Oh, and be sure to listen to the podcast episode because we talk about some other beers that aren’t listed in the article. Enjoy!
Utah Holiday Beers (and a Hard Cider)
Without further ado, we invite you to check out a sampling of delicious Utah holiday beers. And for even more holiday cheer (er, beer), check out our article from 2018. Several of the beers we tried last year are annual brews and available for your enjoyment this holiday season.
Mountain West Hard Cider — Green Urban Lunch Box
We’re fortunate to have a world-class cidery in our backyard. Mountain West Cider House & Bar regularly collaborates on ciders, including the annual Green Urban Lunch Box release. It’s a crisp, dry 6.9% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beauty.
Even more, a portion of proceeds from bottle sales supports The Green Urban Lunch Box, a community-driven urban farm. Incidentally, be sure to seek out Mountain West’s Suba Bleu Cider (available now) and its barrel-aged Stillwater Cider (Dec. 14).
Bonus: Listen to the accompanying podcast episode where Dave Baker and Tim Haran sample and discuss Utah winter/holiday beers (and a hard cider). They also highlight a few Salt Lake-area beer events scheduled between now and the end of the year. And they talk about oh what fun a bottle share can be!
T.F. Brewing — Albion Belgian Tripel
Though this one clocks in at 10.2% ABV, it tends to sneak up on you. In other words, for a big beer, it’s easy drinking. Belgian Tripels are known for a sufficient dose of spice and fruitness and T.F. Brewing‘s Albion is no different. We picked up earthy aromas and some dark fruits mixed with sweet malted grain.
The yeast, often a hallmark of Belgian beers, is a bit subdued in Albion. But with a strong malt profile firmly in place, the drinker is not left wanting for more.
Red Rock Brewery — Griswald’s Holiday Ale
This is our only repeat from our 2018 list. And for good reason. Red Rock Brewery’s Griswald’s is a holiday-season staple in Utah. As Dave so eloquently described last year: “Crack one open and your nostrils will be tantalized with holiday wonderment.”
The orange/copper-colored 8.5% ABV beauty has warming spices (clove, cinnamon, ginger), slight sweetness, and a hint of alcohol to warm you up.
Kiitos Brewing — Holiday Ale
We each tasted Kiitos’ Holiday Ale for the first time on our Utah Holiday Beers podcast episode. It offered a big, spicy aroma (with a hint of pine). Kiitos’ Holiday Ale poured slightly darker than did Red Rock’s Griswald’s — and it delivered less of an alcohol punch (5% ABV). The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors shine in a beer that’s sure to be a Christmas favorite for years to come.
Salt Flats Brewing — Barrel-Aged Kilted Harley Scottish Ale
Salt Flats Brewing is one of a handful of Utah breweries recently to release its first barrel-aged brew. We were fortunate to taste the two beers side-by-side. The original Kilted Harley, a 9% ABV Scottish Ale is a year-round favorite.
Its barrel-aged version — aged for six months in Heaven Hill whiskey barrels and released in November 2019 — amps up the vanilla and oak. It pours a darker brown than the original and offers a healthy dose of rich bourbon character without overdoing the booziness.
Kiitos Brewing — Pastry Style Stout
Even though we already sampled a Kiitos brew, we had to include this one in our roundup. If you’re in the market for a rich, decadent dessert-in-a-glass beer, may we suggest Kiitos Brewing’s Pastry Style Stout? The 13% ABV monster pours pitch black and emits nostril-pleasing corner-bakery notes. It’s thick and doughy but not a chore to get through by any stretch. Once it warmed in the glass, I closed my eyes and swore I was drinking a jelly-filled chocolate doughnut.
You won’t get a lot of the roast, or maybe even coffee-like, characters you might expect from a stout. But the underlying sweetness in the pastry style version is delightful.
Beer to Spread the Holiday Cheer
And that’s much more fun to do while sipping a beer designed to warm you from the inside.
As Dave mentioned in our inaugural Utah Holiday Beers roundup, “You can’t go wrong unwrapping the big, complex flavors of the holiday beer season with your friends and family.”
What Do We Need to Try?
Light up the comments section with your favorite holiday beers. Let us know what winter brews you’ll be drinking this season.
All beers featured in this article were purchased by Utah Beer News and we didn’t receive any compensation from breweries mentioned.