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Holiday Cheer Brings Great Beer

The proliferation of craft beers provides an ample selection of specialty brews for the holiday season.

This year’s selection of seasonal beers includes something for any holiday table, with those from various microbreweries making a particular splash this year.

“The younger crowd likes these types of craft beers,” said owner Martin Stangarone of St. James Beverage Center.

On a small table inside sit a number of different six-packs with festive graphics on the labels. Stangarone hoists one from the back of the row.

“Mad Elf is really hot right now,” he said. At $17.99 for a six-pack, the Christmas ale by Troegs is one of Stangarone’s most expensive brews, though it delivers a strong dose of Christmas cheer at 11 percent alcohol by volume.

Harpoon is another popular brand, Stangarone said, with a flavor he compared to the pine essence of a Christmas tree with other spices.

Alongside the domestic choices are some imported Christmas beers. Popular Belgian brand Delirium makes Noel, another good seller, according to Stangarone. Also from Belgium comes Affigen, a few dollars less than its more well-known neighbor on the rack.

There’s also a Hanukkah pack by Shmaltz “He’Brew” Brewing Company of San Francisco: eight different gourmet Kosher beers, two of each, complete with eight small candles.

Alongside the specialty holiday brews are the ever-popular winter ales and lagers, Stangarone said, most notably those by Blue Point Brewery, one of his biggest sellers. These seasonal beers warm the senses with their rich, robust flavors as well as a hearty alcohol content. Stangarone said 90 percent fall between six and eleven percent alcohol by volume.

The season is also one for hearty sales.

“Christmas Eve is one of my best days of the year,” Stangarone said.

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