Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Few issues in the world are truly black-and-white. Cats, for instance. Some people think they’re nice pets; some people think they’re furry little narcissists who’d happily dine on your face if there were ever a complete collapse of civilization due to a nuclear apocalypse. Ditto Elvis (meaning some people love his music, some think it’s awful. ...Not that he’d dine on your face. Though, honestly, if it were a zombie-based apocalypse, I suppose he might.)
But one thing that can be divided into simple, black-and-white categories is winter and holiday beers. Basically, there are the ones that taste like something your grandmother would bake, and the ones that don’t.
Not that I’m trying to tick off the grandmothers of the world. I don’t want a legion of rolling pin-wielding grannies chasing me down Fifth Avenue, bent on my demise. However, I do think that a beer should, at least in some way, taste like a beer instead of, say, a fruitcake.
Other people may not be as riled up by this topic as me. I accept that. Since it’s almost Christmas and there’s still time to buy a case of tasty winter ale, I don’t want the beer drinkers of the world to come back home with something that tastes like a fermented brown sugar-cinnamon Pop-Tart. So here are six that are actually very good:
Innis & Gunn Winter Treacle Porter
Smuttynose Winter Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
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