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12 LA beers of Christmas

Forget the lords-a-leaping. We found 12 delicious reasons why this is the best season for boozing.

By Justin Cross

With Christmas just days away, you may be trying to figure out how to get your buzz on without spiked egg nog, a hot toddy or an elf tea with peppermint schnapps (although, these winter cocktails all sound pretty damn good, too). Here are 12 holiday beers from local breweries that are just as tasty as they are festive. Pair them with your Christmas dinner or bring them as a gift to the beer lovers in your family.

RECOMMENDED: The best beer bars in Los Angeles


12 Beers of Christmas

Back Home Gingerbread Stout
Photograph: Courtesy Golden Road Brewing

Golden Road Brewing: Back Home Gingerbread Stout

Not too strong, not too light, this Gingerbread Stout is just right. At 8.5% ABV, this beer mixes fresh ginger with cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and vanilla, topped with a rich chocolate malt. If this doesn't bring back your own memories, just know that it was inspired by Golden Road co-founder Meg Gill's childhood Christmas traditions back home in Virginia.

While the keg ran dry at the Golden Road pub, you can still buy it at select retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Costco and BevMo.

The Nothing at Smog City
Photograph: Courtesy Smog City Brewing

Smog City: The Nothing

Now here's a way to succumb to holiday decadence: a double chocolate imperial stout brewed with two types of chocolate malt and aged on raw cocoa nibs. This fan favorite is brewed once a year and is currently slated for a January 17 release. The name is in honor of The Neverending Story's character, The Nothing, who was the embodiment of lost hopes and dreams and is set upon destroying Fantasia. The Nothing will be released alongside a bourbon barrel-aged version that's been resting (sleeping, if you will) for the past 12 months.
Photograph: Courtesy Angel City Brewery

Angel City: Winter Porter

Angel City's Winter Porter is a full-bodied, huddle-around-the-fire type of beer. Subtle hints of vanilla and a roasted, dark chocolate finish...need we say more? This beer is great for sipping on long, chilly nights (even if we only get, like, six of them per year). To score a pint, you can find the Winter Porter at the Angel City brewpub or various bars and restaurants around town (check out this beer finder to help you locate the porter nearest you).
Monkish Magnificat
Photograph: Courtesy Monkish Brewing Co.

Monkish Brewing Co: Magnificat 2014

If you like fruity beers that will knock you on your ass, this may be the one. Don't let the mix of coriander seeds, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and candy syrup fool you—this bourbon barrel-aged beer is a kicker at 10.1% ABV. If that's not enough, try last year's make and model which has been aged for 10 months and goes for a healthy 12.6% ABV.
Photograph: Courtesy Ladyface Ale Companie

Ladyface Ale Companie: Midnight Special

Ladyface's Midnight Special is a scotch ale designed for toasting. The nutmeg flavor topped with a white head comes in at a moderate 7% ABV. While keeping with traditional winter style, this beer offers vanilla, caramel and chocolate notes but differentiates with a dry, coconut flavor. If you're alone for the holidays (like yours truly), this beer may make for a perfect late-night companion.
Photograph: Justin Cross

The Bruery: 7 Swans-A-Swimming

OK, so we may have told you to forget the lords-a-leaping, but we will grant you the swans-a-swimming. At 11% ABV, this Orange County beer is ideal as a sipper to complement a Christmas ham, green bean casserole or sweet potato pie. A must-have if you love Christmas—I mean, it's practically in the name.

Photograph: Bernie Wire

El Segundo Brewing Co: Standard Crude American Imperial Stout

This is a beer designed for the holidays. The warm stout hammers home a fireside feeling and its combination of chocolate, roasted coffee and dark fruit make it a must-have if you're in LA this time of year. Have it with friends. Have it with family. Heck, have it with people you may not even like. Who needs an olive branch when you have the Standard Crude American Imperial Stout?
Photograph: Courtesy Eagle Rock Brewery

Eagle Rock Brewery: Jubilee

Leisurely, spicy, warm...this could describe a significant other, or it could also describe the Jubilee from Eagle Rock Brewery. The combination of fruit and bitterness won't overwhelm the palate, but instead leave you in good spirits as you consume it in the public house or in the comfort of your own home. 
Winter Haze
Photograph: Courtesy Dale Bros. Brewery

Dale Bros. Brewery: Winter Haze

OK, so maybe winter is more of a blip than a haze in Southern California, but nonetheless, this beer is tasty and that's what matters most. Its unique barleywine style and 8.5% ABV packs a punch without being overwhelming.
Photograph: Courtesy MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.

MacLeod Ale Brewing Co: Old Toasty

Described as a dark mild, Old Toasty won't hit you quite as strong as some winter beers—but that's not to say it lacks in taste. Fans of this beer can't get enough of its malty, chocolate flavor, and with a relatively low alcohol content (4.2% ABV), it's easy enough to drink while still giving you a satisfying buzz.

Photograph: Courtesy Strand Brewing Co.

Strand Brewing Co: Second Sleep Stout

This beer just sounds sexy—deep, dark, velvety and Russian (Imperial Stout). As you drink this, you may get lost in its eyes—I mean, its malts. It may be available year round, but only in limited quantities. Kind of like the girl (or guy) you've been meaning to ask out.
Photograph: Courtesy Hangar 24

Hangar 24: Hullabaloo

It's safe to say that this beer is colorful, and we're not just talking about its labeling. American hops + English hops = Bitter hops. If that's your style, then you'll like the Hullabaloo from Hangar 24.

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