The 12 beers of Christmas

Watch your wallet and stock your fridge without resorting to discount beer. Here are the best local and imported beers you can get in Halifax for under $5 each.

(Baltic porter)
Boxing Rock Brewing Co.
Shelburne, N.S.
$3.49 / 7.5%
Brewed during Dorian, this beer is named for the local term for a wicked storm. This Baltic porter offers a burst of smooth, sweet malt flavours and a hit of spicy Magnum hops for clean bitterness with a hint of citrus flavour. Plus in a 355-ml bottle, it’ll fit nicely in a stocking. Find it at Local Source Market and most liquor stores.

Cole Harbour Red
(Irish Red)
North Brewing Co.
Cole Harbour, N.S.
$4.00 / 5%
One of North’s early releases from its new spot in Cole Harbour. A textbook Irish red, it offers baked fruit aromas plus caramel and biscuit flavours with a smooth finish of pine and a hint of grass. Find it at Bishop’s Cellar and the brewery.

Brooklyn Lager
(amber lager)
Brooklyn Brewing
Williamsburg, NY
$4.50 / 5.2%
While many wouldn’t recognize it as a lager because of its deep red colour, Vienna-style beer with a big malty backbone is my go-to lager style. Amid the almost sticky tasting caramel malts, you’ll discover an aggressive amount of dry-hopping, plus floral and herbal notes that pair well with its bitter finish. Drink with salty snacks or a meat dish. Find it at Bishop’s Cellar.

Saltwater Joys (gose)
The Church Brewing Co.
Wolfville, N.S.
$4.49 / 4.4%
Gose as a style is known for its salty finish, and the addition of pink Himalayan sea salt accomplishes this perfectly. Opening this can will remind you of summer afternoons on the shore. Big tropical hops bring aroma and flavour while a hint of lime zest finishes off everything perfectly. Find it at Bishop’s Cellar and the brewery.

Matinee (pale ale)
2 Crows Brewing Co.
Halifax, N.S.
$3.40 / 3.1%
While 2 Crows is known for its barrel program, don’t overlook this tiny, hoppy pale ale. It packs a lot of punch into its low ABV. Dry hopping with “obscene” amounts of Galaxy, Citra, and Idaho 7 lends it notes of papaya, pineapple, and tangerine. It has a dry finish and a touch of pine to close out each sip. Find it at the private stores and the brewery.

Anchor Steam Beer
Anchor Brewing
San Francisco, CA
$3.50 / 4.8%
First brewed in 1896, Anchor is widely considered the U.S.’s oldest commercial beer. To this day, it’s open fermented, meaning instead of sitting in steel tanks like at most breweries, the lager bubbles and froths in open tanks, cooled by piped-in San Francisco breezes. Search YouTube for open fermentation and you’re in for a treat. This copper lager offers caramel malts and subtle toast and grass flavours with a refreshing finish. Find it at the private stores.

Christmas Ale
St. Peter’s Brewery Co.
Suffolk, U.K.
$4.99 / 7%
You know it is truly the most wonderful time of the year when the winter warmers hit the shelves. While the bottle shape is reminiscent of old-fashioned medicine bottles, what’s inside is a fruity, Christmas spiced delight. Think fruitcake soaked in dark beer. Drink it with charcuterie or holiday cookies. Find this one at the NSLC.

NZ Pils
Propeller Brewing Co.
Halifax, N.S.
$4.50 / 5.2%
Released in November, this new-world take on a classic pilsner won’t last long. Named for the origin of its Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops, expect aromas of gooseberry, fresh citrus, and white wine in this easy drinking refresher. Find it at the brewery or private stores.

Freezing Spray IPA
Heritage Brewing Co.
Yarmouth, N.S.
$4.49 / 6.5%
Hop heads flock to this beer because it does exactly what it promises. Ample additions of Chinook, Ekuanot, and Citra hops bring armloads of citrus and fruit aromas with a little pine and spice to highlight a wide range of hop flavours that somehow blend perfectly. Find it at NSLC and the brewery.

Smoked Porter
Uncle Leo’s Brewery
Pictou, N.S.
$4.75 / 6.8%
This bold beer isn’t for everyone. As soon as you crack the can, you’ll smell wood smoke. It pours an inky black with flavours
of cocoa, coffee, and dark fruit, plus a touch of hickory. Drink it by the fire, or while dreaming of having a fireplace. Find it most anywhere you buy local beer.

Praha Bohemian Lager
Grimross Brewing
Frederiction, N.B.
$4.85 / 3.8%
This is another beer perfect for when you have gifts to wrap but want a cold, crisp beer. It features the low alcohol and clean flavour of a Czech pilsner and Saaz hops for a delicate bitterness. Bonus, pour it in a glass and you may be able to sneak it past relatives think they hate craft beer. Find it at the private stores.

(English dark mild)
Tatamagouche Brewing Co.
Tatamagouche, N.S.
4.50 / 3.6%
This beer made its triumphant return in October at Cask Days in Toronto, but now you’ll find it in cans across the city. True to style, it offers delicate flavours of toast and nuts with a hint of sweet baked fruits and drinks smooth and sweet. Pair it with a cold weather classic meal like beef stew. Find it at Bishop’s Cellar and the brewery.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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