The guys at Northern Monk Brewery in Leeds are providing us with a festive pick-me-up this year: their collaboration with North Star Coffee Roasters has resulted in a batch of Festive Star, a 5.9% mocha porter featuring North Star’s Christmas coffee blend alongside some choice Christmas spices
Northern Monk also have a treat in store for visitors to their tap room: their single-batch Stollen Pale Ale is brimming with Christmassy flavours and almost as moreish as the real thing. It’s available exclusively at the Refectory – until it’s gone, that is.
Leeds Brewery’s seasonal brews have taken a wintry turn this month with the launch of their 4.1% pale ale Fireside, the perfect accompaniment to a dark winter evening. With base herbal aroma provided by the traditional English hops, its character is lifted with the addition of Columbus hops at the end of the boil which adds notes of black pepper, liquorice and sherbet.
December is also the time for Leeds Brewery’s Christmas classic, Reindeer Porter, to shine. Described by the brewery as ‘Christmas in a pint’, this full-bodied dark ale is packed with festive flavours.
We all know that Christmas is a time for sharing – and this December Bad Seed decided to share their brewing expertise with the staff of veteran York pub The House of Trembling Madness to produce two extra special beers in limited edition 750ml sharer bottles.
Descent into Madness is a real winter warmer – a winter stout with chocolate, vanilla, orange, Sichuan pepper and grains of paradise – while ultra-hopped West Coast IPA Seed of Hope will transport you back to warmer months with a single sip. The two beers were launched at the House of Trembling Madness in York, and are available to buy nationwide for a limited time.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… the time when Brass Castle Brewery bottle their latest batch of Wallop and we can all rest happy. Though not specifically a ‘Christmas beer’, Wallop is an annual favourite and certainly makes a great alternative to a dram of the hard stuff on a cold winter’s night. Barrel-aged for six months in bourbon, brandy and whisky barrels, the addition of black treacle rounds out this 7.5% ‘Yorkshire stingo’ and gives it a luscious mouth feel.
Let us share a theory with you – we reckon the Hop Studio really, really love Christmas. After all, why else would they brew not one but two festive specials for our enjoyment?
First up is Humbug, the Hop Studio’s 5.0% smoked milk porter, which will make you think of woodburning stoves and big cosy blankets. If you aren’t a fan of the dark side, though, don’t worry – the Hop Studio still have you covered. Available from January until March their 5.0% pale winter ale Fire & Ice is described as ‘the antidote to dark winter ales… full of berry and dark fruit flavours’. Now that’s what we call a proper winter selection.
The Ainsty tap room has only been open five minutes, they’re busy keeping up with the growing demand for their core range… and yet they’ve still found time to brew us a delicious winter special, a collaboration winter-ale brew with fledgling Leeds wheat brewery Eyes Brewing Brewery. At 5.0%, it’s a spiced winter wheat ale called ‘Wassail’ (see what they did there?) containing, orange, ginger and cinnamon.
Despite all the festive cheer, this time of year can sometimes feel a bit gloomy – when the weather’s wet and the nights draw in so early, it can be hard to look on the bright side. Luckily, Half Moon’s Solstice Porter is the perfect drink to toast the shortest day of the year – a deep ruby ale with a treacle aroma, its rich, dark chocolate flavour is balanced by a smoky finish. The ideal accompaniment to a night in in front of the fire.
Rudgate really are spoiling us this year. Not only is perennial favourite Rudolph’s Ruin, a 4.6% deep chestnut ale, making its yearly appearance, but it’s joined this time by Mistletoe Myth - a 4.0% ‘pale cheery ale’ providing a breath of festive fresh air with its light malts and citrusy hop profile.
If what you want from your season brews is something really, really Christmassy, though, we’d recommend picking up a pint of Rudgate’s Brew No.27. It’s a 3.8% spiced Christmas ale infused with oak chips, orange peel and spices – and it’ll certainly infuse you with Christmas cheer.
We reckon Santa’s probably pretty reliant on the Gaviscon at this time of year – all those seasonal goodies and festive snifters can play havoc with a man’s digestion – and Yorkshire Heart certainly seemed to have this in mind when they named their seasonal special Santa’s Little Belcha. A rich hearty tipple with malty sweetness balancing its spicy hop character, it’s spiked with all the flavours of Christmas - cinnamon, ginger & star anise, to name just a few. Perfect for washing down all those mince pies!
You know that rich, sickly Christmas drink full of cream and booze that no one likes, yet still somehow appears at every festive family party like an extra awkward relative? Well, Brew York have reimagined it completely – and made it brilliant. Everything you thought you knew about eggnog will be turned upside down with a sip of their winter seasonal ale, Fairytale of Brew York. It’s an eggnog-inspired white milk stout, flavoured with bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg – as rich, sweet and festive as the original, but unbelievably delicious.
Happy Christmas, everyone! Our tours have now stopped running for Christmas, and the Brewtown minibus sets off again on Feb 1st. Enjoy the holidays, and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.