The History of Christmas Beers

Dec 01, 2022

Christmas beer has fully hit the shelves of Hop City. Ever wondered how these seasonal beers came to be? There’s rich history behind the origin, starting all the way back to the pre-Christian era of the Vikings. Jul, also modernly known as Yule, was a December pagan festival celebrated by the Vikings to honor Norse gods and the winter solstice. Special beers were brewed for the occasion and the tradition spread throughout Scandinavia. Christianity arrived to the region in the 10th century and a sort of mash-up of Pagan and religious practices occurred when King Haakon of Norway used the Jul tradition to push his Christian agenda and mandated citizens brew special Christmas beer or risk being fined. The Jul tradition carried on in the form of Yule ale in the British Isles following the Viking invasion and gradually countries throughout Europe began creating their own versions. The rest is, well, sort of history.

Early Christmas beers were dark and malty and this characteristic is still the backbone of today’s modern Christmas beer. Many of the holiday brews also traditionally contain spices and herbs such as cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, cloves and juniper to name a few.

Below are some of our favorites currently stocked on Hop City shelves (all locations). If you’re looking to sample some Christmas beer, check out our next Fizz Ed session (aka Beer School) happening down at our Fayetteville location on December 14th (see more info further down in the email). We’ve also curated a Beer Advent Box full of Christmas themed beer which makes a great gift for the beer lover in your life, or as a special treat to yourself. Available at all Hop City locations ($119.00).

Three Taverns Feest Noel - $13.99/4 pack

This isn’t just one of our local faves, it’s one of the best Christmas beers on the market hands down. This Belgian-style quadrupel uses dark roasted malts and imported Belgian dark candy sugar, and is spiced with accents of cardamom, allspice and cloves.

St Bernardus Christmas Ale - $22.99/4 pack or $14.99/750 mL

A cozy holiday beer loved by many the world over, St Bernardus Christmas is a Belgian dark strong ale that is slightly sweet and fruity with aromas of toasted nuts and zesty spices. Available as a 4 pack or a 750mL bottle.

Anchor Christmas Ale - $11.99/6 pack or $18.99/1.5 L magnum

Anchor’s Christmas Ale was the first Christmas beer released in America (since Prohibition times). It’s a rich and dark spiced ale with a different recipe every year. The 2022 version is a red rye ale with notes of orange, gingerbread and toasted malts. Hint: The magnum bottle (1.5L) is a great party gift.


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