10 Great California Holiday Ales

20 days until Christmas. That leaves plenty of time to enjoy the full spectrum of winter seasonal offerings from California breweries. In the festive spirit of the holidays, instead of tasting notes, I offer my take on the outer package, the label, the Christmas wrapping as it were. You know the stuff you tear at and rip off to get to the presents underneath. (Luckily, the beer inside is quite tasty as well).

Holiday Beer California

10. Lagunitas Sucks or Brown Shugga

The main part of the label of these two winter seasonals, one an IPA, the other, who knows, but Lagunitas calls it a failed barleywine. Still, the label’s not the main draw. Nope. It is the verbiage that crawls around the sides that makes people start twisting the bottle around. Even when full! To read what crazy words of wisdom the Petaluma brewery has to offer.

Holiday Beer California

9. Hangar 24 – Warmer

The ever-growing Redlands brewery has “freshened” its brand logo but that hasn’t changed the look of the Local Fields series winter offering. You can see the main ingredients used in the beer – maple syrup, spruce and cinnamon – which hang over a clear runway with snowy trees off to the side. This label touches all the bases.

Holiday Beer California

8. 21st Amendment – Fireside Chat

Part of what I call the political cans from this San Francisco based brewery. You have Franklin D. Roosevelt presiding by the fire over a winter spiced ale. With garlands on the mantle as he addresses the nation.

Holiday Beer California

7. Moylan’s – White Christmas

Southern Californians can be forgiven if they don’t immediately recognize the white shapes on the blue background of this label. They are snowflakes. We don’t have them here. A simple design, but it tells you quickly and economically that you have entered winter.

Holiday Beer California

6. Drake’s – Abominably Jolly

Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland has their Abonimable Winter Ale and Great Divide of Denver has their line of Yeti beers and now courtesy of Drake’s in San Leandro, Californians have their own scary creature for Christmas. A somewhat cubist Picasso creature who reigns over an Imperial White IPA.



Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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