RANDOLPH, NJ- So, I can assume since Craft Beer is a huge part of my life and job, that if I'm confused on exactly what a Christmas beer is... then most of you are as well.
 
Can a holiday be a style of beer? And if we could determine what a Christmas beer is, how can we decipher it from a Winter ale?  Is it all about a specific profile, such as flavor or body, or is it the timing of the release?  I mean beeradvocate.com doesn’t even have it listed as a style, what?  If the spices determine this style’s flavor profile, are there such thing as Christmas spices?  Cinnamon? Licorice?  Caramel? Toffee and wood? Wood?? Regardless of what people can pull “out” of these beers at first sip, my initial thought is that they resemble Belgian styles.. big ones - like strong ales and quads. Sweet, a bit spicy,  and warming to the belly… and the soul.  
 
Similar to Christmas, the making of this beer style is global, dating back thousands of years. Belgium, Italy, England and even Japan account for some of the most popular brands found here in the U.S. including Baladin,- Italy, Corsendonk -Belgium, Harveys -The UK & Hitochino from Japan.  Availability of Draft is a bit harder to come by in the U.S. (but not at Morris Tap & Grill)  Several of these beers come in large format bottles,  similar to wine bottles. This makes them a perfect beer to share (a virtue behind the holidays) and makes them a great gift ( THEE virtue of the holidays ). You’ll find an array of bottles in attractive and utilitarian packaging. For example, Corsendonk sells theirs in a tin cylinder which could have many uses for the crafty. 
 
 
Regardless of the specifics and details, at the end of the day we’re talking Beer, Very Good Beer.  Don’t miss out on trying both imports and domestics this season.  If you’re a beginner, this is a perfect style for you as the flavor profiles are ones that people tend to try first...somewhat sweet, not bitter or floral.. just warm & hearty . If you’re already a Craft Beer Nerd, go for the good ones, the stronger ones, they are a great alternative to the popular stout. 
 
So, toss aside any political incorrectness and drink a Christmas beer this holiday! And ,no better place to do that then Morris Tap & Grill! On Dec. 10th. at 5pm- where you’ll find harder to come by drafts and bottles of both domestic and imported Christmas Beers.
 
Cheers!
 
Michael DeSimone is the General Manager at Morris Tap & Grill in Randolph and Paragon Tap & Table in Clark.  He has 18 years experience ranging from bus boy to a GM.  He is "craftbeergm" in the craft beer world as his beer programs at both locations are award winning and greatly revered.  His dedication to high service standards, beer relevance and staff training has made MTG and Paragon known as some of the best gastropubs in NJ.