There are so many beer varieties available today. I was thinking about getting a couple different beers to have ready for drop-in guests over the holidays. However, there are hundreds of winter-themed beers. Can you recommend three or four that would are different enough to provide my guests with options but still are seasonal brews?
The fun part of seasonal beers is that it gives breweries a chance to play with fun flavors in smaller batches. For you, as a beer drinker, the fun part is the chance to get hyper-local, and allow your friendly neighborhood brewery to have some fun with small batches of recipes with ingredients they’d normally never be able to use.
Since we are talking hyper-local, I’m not sure of the best way to answer your question, because I’m not sure where you’re writing. If you’re somewhere near me, in New England, then I’d suggest you buy a 12-pack holiday sampler from Harpoon, Magic Hat, and Long Trail. Your results may vary, of course, depending on where you’re reading.
Failing something local, any seasonal would be appropriate. Sierra Nevada has a decent lineup of seasonal beers, most of which still stay true to the beermaker’s strong, hop-first style. Sam Adams might not be a small brewery anymore, but it still turns out some smaller-batch (Sam has become one of the only big American brewers left, and none of their main labels are the kind of interesting you’re seeking, but their smaller seasonal mix packs have some interesting items in them.)
If you want a couple nicer bottles for a more special occasion, let me suggest the Delirium Noel, from the makers of the Delirium Tremens. It’s not the foamy glass of baking spices that you sometimes expect from a winter seasonal; it’s a dark Belgian strong ale that’s scored high marks from Beer Advocate. It comes in 750 ml bottles; one of them will serve one 6-oz glass for four people, or two 6-0z glasses for two people. It will definitely be the most interesting (and, arguably, the best) seasonal beer any of your guests will taste.