By Jared Dillon
Idyll Awhile Wine Shoppe & Bistro

The style of Christmas ale is a unique one. To even name the style after Christmas is a misnomer.

Historically, cultures around the world have created some sort of fermented beverage to celebrate the change from autumn to winter. Many civilizations around the world have parties and holidays surrounding the time of the winter solstice. Seasons are changing and many primitive cultures saw this as an important period of life.

Interestingly enough, our ancestors preferred to produce beers very strong in terms of alcohol in conjunction with these events. If you look at a wide variety of strong beer styles like Germany’s Doppelbocks or Belgium’s Quadrupel Style ales, chances are you’ll find their roots are firmly attached to that of celebrations such as Christmas.

Trying to explain the Christmas ale style is very difficult. One of the beers we are tasting on Dec. 19 is actually a Hanukkah beer named Jewbelation Reborn. The beer itself is a 17-percent alcohol black ale with lush notes of dark raisins and oak.

The typical guidelines for these types of beers are that they are very strong in both flavor and alcohol, and also tend to be spiced with seasonal ingredients.

Belgian Christmas ales are notorious for having strong cinnamon, nutmeg and anise flavors. German Doppelbocks are strong lagers with rich caramel notes that are perfect for a winter evening.

American Christmas styles range in a vast variety of flavors. One we tasted at last year’s beer tasting was flavored with ginger and pineapple.

Lest we forget, the overall sentiment behind Christmas ales is they are meant for sharing and celebration. The flavors and styles may be vast, but they are all brewed in hopes of bringing about cheer and good wishes.

Join us for a Christmas (and Hanukkah) Beer Tasting and Celebration at Idyll Awhile at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19. Each beer will be paired with a food course. Seating is limited. Call 951-659-9463 to reserve a seat at $25 per person.