Once the freezing temperatures arrive at the dawn of winter, Christmas beers begin to make an appearance, as one more Christmas element, which is part of the usual iconography of this time of year that floods the streets of our cities. Of all the seasonal beers, without a doubt, Christmas beers are the most popular among the beer public. Christmas beers do not constitute any style in themselves, contrary to the widely held belief among the general public. In reality, Christmas beers are nothing more than the beers of the winter season, which by tradition are produced every year by a large part of the breweries in different countries, on the occasion of the arrival of Christmas and winter. They are very different from each other: dark, pale, sweet, fruity, with added sugars or quite the opposite, more bitter with an extra hop content. Despite the aforementioned heterogeneity, the other characteristic that Christmas and winter beers usually share is their malty character and high alcohol content, which is usually above 7%, making them ideal companions for cold winter days, resulting in comfort. due to the warmth provided and ideal for sharing in family celebrations.
The best-known Christmas beer that exists is undoubtedly the Austrian Samichlaus, heir to an old Swiss recipe. Samichlaus is the name given to Santa Claus, colloquially in the German spoken by the Swiss. It is a Christmas beer that is made every year on December 6, in commemoration of the day of Saint Nicholas. Subsequently, the beer is left to mature for the next 10 months in the barrel, to be consumed the following year just at the beginning of December, before the arrival of the Christmas holidays.
The Germans, as traditional beer producers in the old continent, also have their Christmas beer which they call Weihnachtsbier, or also Festbier or Starkbier, reserved for the cold days of the harsh German winter. This type of beer is mainly found in Bavaria, in the south of the country. While the usual beers of the summer season range between 4º and 5º of alcohol, the lighter Weihnachtsbier have at least 6º of alcohol and in many cases they even manage to exceed 8º.
The British also have their own way of enjoying their beers for the winter season, which they call Winter Warmer, which are usually top-fermented beers, malty profile, sweet and more alcoholic than those usually made by British breweries. Usually darker in color, they tend to have an alcoholic concentration between 6º and 8º. In some cases they include a spice or aromatic herb in their preparation, although it is not really an essential ingredient in this type of beers.
The North Americans, as heirs of the Anglo-Saxon culture, use the term Winter Ale and even Winter Warmer, to designate this class of beers, although in the same way they use the term Christmas Beer or American Christmas Beer, both of which are common. In the case of North Americans, these types of beers are usually characterized by a more robust body and a higher ethyl content, far exceeding 10º of alcohol in some cases.