Imperial pumpkin ale, 9%
If you see regular, non-pumpkin Sleigh’r, by all means, grab it, because it’s delicious. But this year, Ninkasi’s R&D (Rare & Delicious) series decided that the regular ol’ Sleigh’r could use a bigger brother, and this bad boy’s tougher than Scut Farkus. The weird part, though, is how muted the pumpkin is, and how that gourd-y taste commingles with the brown sugar in the mix to create a beer that perfectly transitions you from fall-evoking pumpkin to winter warmer without losing any of the nuances of either.
Welcome to the geeky end of the spectrum, folks! Saisons get left high and dry this time of year, and I feel it’s my duty to recommend one that will knock your knit wool socks off. It’s got a barnyard nose that dives into a beautifully creamy, fruity body with grassy, spicy flavors and that Brett funkiness on the finish for all you freaks out there. Bring this one in for the office secret Santa if you pull the resident beer nerd’s name (or just drink it yourself).
Winter warmer, 8%
Clifton Park, NY
He’brew holds a special place in my heart for its tendency towards using punny beer names, but it also happens to be pretty great at making the stuff. It's become known for the single release Hanukkah beers it puts out each year, but even as a repeat release, this brew stands out. Eight malts and eight hops (of course!) are used in the recipe, and the result is date, molasses, chocolate, and cookie flavors with a relatively hoppy finish. Side note: if you can get your hands on one of He’Brew’s rare "Chanukah in Kentucky" bottles, do yourself a favor and pick one up!
Wheat ale, 6.7%
Wheat beer fans tend to suffer through the winter months as dark beers dominate the tap lines. But enjoying one during the colder months is by no means a crime, especially when it’s this creamy, fragrant, well-balanced brew. It’s full-bodied thanks to use of barley, wheat, and oats in the grain bill, and has all of the peppery, banana, clove, and spice notes you should expect from Bavarian yeast. This is the one to reach for as a holiday brunch beer alongside eggs or breakfast sandwiches, and is the best way to spread out the beer style options at your holiday party.
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Zach Mack is Thrillist's contributing beer writer, the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, a newly minted cicerone, and nothing else. Follow him @zmack.
Thrillist senior editor Andy Kryza contributed some of the less-trustworthy recommendations to this list.