Christmastime in Cincinnati means that it’s time to drink up all those pumpkin beers, knock back the last few Oktoberfests that are still lingering in our beer fridges and start making way for all the winter beers that are already gracing the shelves and tap handles at our local breweries.

But… what’s a drinker to do when it’s becoming so freaking hard to navigate them all?  Have no fear, dear reader – The Gnome is here to wade through them all and compile another one of those Beer Rundowns… we don’t want anyone missing out an a delicious winter beer!

Now that I’ve built it up… if I missed any, please let me know.  Also keep in mind, that there are a TON of beers at different breweries that are perfect for cold weather drinking.  We’re not talking about these, we’re dealing with those special seasonal beers that are specifically winter or Christmas beers – I’m sorry to all the big, delicious Imperial Stouts that are around…  I have to draw a line somewhere or I’ll be here all season putting this list together!

TinyBlankSlateBlank Slate

  • Fumar Navidad – I think when I got to try this beer last time, I made the statement that it was my favorite Christmas beer of all time.  I won’t say that right now… looking at this list in front of me, but I will say that this is very near the top of my list of beers that I know I have to get my hands on this winter.  The brewery takes their fantastic Smoked Porter, and hits it over the head with crushed candy canes to create a beer that literally screams Christmas.  Get in my glass… please get in my glass.


  • Claus – This new one just debuted recently at this year’s Winter Block Party and Dark Charge Release Day.  Claus is a sweet stout with Peppermint for that holiday punch that puts it square on this list. I’m really liking this one a lot.  The peppermint is really subtle in the beer (unless you get the peppermint rim) which gives it a very different approach than the Fumar Navidad from Blank Slate.  I anticipate a few of these ending up in my belly this winter.  Claus is on tap now for you to try, so make your way down to the taproom.

TinyCellarDwellerCellar Dweller

  • Christmas Ale – This was available on tap only last year, a “traditional” spiced Christmas beer with a slightly hopped up finish to it.  I don’t have confirmation that this will for sure be making its way back to the tap handles this year… but I’ll let you know as soon as I find out more details!

TinyCMoerleinChristian Moerlein

  • Christkindl – This is one of the classics as far as Cincinnati winter beers go.  It’s a traditional winter warmer, malt driven with some toasty chocolatey notes that make it perfect for my beer glass as soon as the temperature drops!  It’s on tap now, and available in bottles all around town.  You can also read my tasting notes on it for some more detail.


  • Caroline’s Cozy Christmas Ale – This one is a favorite of everyone in my house.  It uses Sorachi Ace and Chinook hops beautifully to provide a great canvas for the addition of nutmeg to fill it out with its signature “wintery” personality.  On tap now – this one is a must drink!

TinyEi8htBallEi8ht Ball

  • Home Alone – A nutty milk stout, this one may be a Christmas Ale by name alone… but it’s certainly a Christmas beer to me, after all, next to Die Hard, Home Alone might be my favorite Christmas movie.  This beer is full of nutty flavors and a big wallop that will warm you from the inside out.  They not only throw this one up on tap for you to drink, you’d can find it at better beer stores all around the city in cans as well – curious for more?  Read my tasting notes!

TinyFiftyWestFifty West

  • Xmas Cookie – What do you do when you don’t want to brew a “traditional” Christmas Ale?  You make a beer that tastes like the Christmas cookies that keep the old man in red running during his long night around the world.  This one pops up on taps all over the city, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it if you look a little bit.  If all else fails, you can always head down to the brewpub or the Fifty West Production Works and find it on tap this time of year.

TinyHofbrauHofbrauhaus Newport

  • Weihnactsbier – Don’t think that the uber-traditional Hofbrauhaus is left out when it comes to seasonal Christmas beers.  Don’t forget that the Germans were doing this long before craft breweries took off.  Hofbrauhaus makes this version of a spiced up Marzen and taps it in December.  You can, of course, find it at the brewery, but if you’re looking to take it home you’ll have to settle for one of their new growlers and crowlers, once they’re running.

TinyListermannListermann/Triple Digit

  • White Death – The only thing that can make those terrible days where the entire city suddenly forgets how to drive with a dusting of snow on the roads is a glass of this beer.  It’s an easy drinking beer, coming in at around 6.2% ABV, but the big dosing of Saigon Cinnamon gives this a decidedly winter twist.  I reccommend avoiding the roads all together and holing up in your house with a bottle of this.  Keep your eyes peeled, because periodically they put out a barrel aged version that is to die for!
  • Belsnickel – A new one for this year, this 12.5% beast of a beer gets its name from the mythological gift giver (and punishment bringer) that you might remember from that episode of The Office’s last season.  The beer though? It’s a blend of Brandy and Bourbon Barrel aged beers, hit with some chocolate, ginger , nutmeg and allspice.  You might be able to find this in its twelve ounce single bottles around town if you keep your eyes peeled.  If you do, I don’t need to tell you that you should buy it – right?

MadTree BrewingMadTree

  • Thundersnow – It’s hard to think of a beer that has only been around for a few years as a classic… but this beer is a classic winter staple in Cincinnati.  MadTree takes a delicous Scottish Style Ale and hits it with all your favorite wintery spices to make this beautiful winter beer.  They’ve been canning it for three years now, and I know it might sound weird…but in my experience – it cellars really well for the adventurous people out there who want to either experiement, or drink it in the summer heat… either way!  I (of course) have some tasting notes for this one if you’re curious what you can expect.

TinyMtCarmelMt. Carmel

  • Winter Ale – Flavors of cinnamon, clove, and ginger all meld together in a beer that is a beautiful example of what I like in a winter warmer.  It’s big, and bold.  While it comes in at 8% ABV it doesn’t scream of high alcohol, instead providing just enough to warm you up when you need it.  Solid example of the really great seasonal beers that roll out each season at Mt. Carmel.  Available in bottles all over town, and on tap as well.


  • Christmakwanzukah – Sometimes, you just are satisfied with one holiday, and you really need to celebrate all of your favorite winter holidays with one beer.  That’s the story behind the name of Christmakwanzukah from Paradise Brewing in Anderson.  This easy drinking but massively flavored beer is a perfect celebration too – full of toasty flavors that dance with a load of winter spices, it pairs well with the chill of winter.  Available on tap only, you should probably make your way out to the newly remodeled taproom at Paradise and have a pint or two!  However, don’t pass up their other winter beer if it’s on…
  • The Ol Nutcracker – I’m a huge fan of this one.  It uses a maple and nutty character to separate itself from other winter warmers, elevating it to a beer that I’d be happy to sip a lot of other times of the year as well as the winter.  Until the brewery starts packaging their beers, this is only available on tap – so get there, and get it!

Rhinegeist BrewingRhinegeist

  • Dad – I have used this as an example a few different times of how a brewery can take the traditional seasonal beers of this time of year and put their own spin on it.  Rhinegeist loves to make west coast style beers, and certainly don’t shy away from hops.  This beer is a “hoppy holiday ale” – which means that it has the ability to please a few different crowds with its unique flavor profile.  You can find it on draft around town, or also available in its signature plaid cans – and you can read the tasting notes too…


  • Winter – This beer has a big, bold personality that is instantly recognizable.  The brewery uses cinnamon and molasses to beef up the big body and turn this into a winter warmer clocking in at 7.5% ABV.  If you have never tried it… I’m not sure what rock you’ve been living under, and if you haven’t tried it in a few years – now seems like a good excuse to revisit your old friend again!  It’s available on draft, and bottles around town (and beyond with Rivertown’s big reach).
  • Peppermint Lambic – This is being made in a very limited quantity this year.  I haven’t had it yet, so I can’t honestly tell you how it turned out, but I think you can guess a bit about what to expect.  Big, tart, funky Lambic flavor with a punch of peppermint right on top to bring the winter to the funk.  I love the idea of this, and I’m pretty curious to see how it turned out.  They have knocked the funky seasonal thing out of the park with Sour Pumpkin – so they have some pretty big shoes to fill with this experiment.  You can only find it on draft at the brewery, and they’re tapping it on December 20th.

TinyTaftsTaft’s Ale House

  • Liquid Advent – There is a really good reason that Taft’s Ale House put this beer out in big 16oz cans, and it’s because it’s phenomenal.  You can, of course, read my tasting notes – but if you want the short version I’ll tell you that it’s a chocolatey porter with cinnamon and chilies in it.  Pair that up with its beautiful can design, and Taft’s has a winter on their hands with this one.
  • Santa’s Bribe – If you’re one of those BJCP disciple nut jobs when it comes to your commercial beer drinking, this one will make you happy.  The BJCP guidelines for Christmas Ales ask that they taste like Christmas cookies… and that’s exactly what this one does.  It’s got a spice profile of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla that just screams ginger snap cookies.  It might only be available on draft, but that doesn’t mean it’s one that you can easily skip over when making your Christmas Beer rounds this year!
  • Winterbrau – 7.1% ABV, this winter treat is a traditional German ‘Weihnachtsbier’ and is bigger and bolder for the cooler temperatures that the season brings with it.

tinyurbanartifactUrban Artifact

My hat comes off to Urban Artifact.  They are unashamed Christmas beer geeks, and their list here shows that.  They do the 12 beers of Christmas which involves kegs of all these different beers, coming online throughout the month (depending on when stuff kicks) – and they aren’t even satisfied with this.  Next year they’re going to have even more.  I’m hearing rumors of a full 24 Christmas beers on tap in December.

Keep in mind with this list, though – not all of these are still available… there have already been several kegs that have kicked, so make sure that you hit them up on social media where you can see the current list of what’s on tap.

  • Sliderule – Though it’s not part of their 12 days of Christmas, this is their seasonal gose offering for winter.  It’s got a load of fresh raspberries, fresh chocolate and that nice punch of tartness that I love about their goses.  Since this was one of their first cans that just made it out their doors this month, let’s make this easy on ourselves… just go read my tasting notes!
  • Kicksled – Again… this isn’t part of Urban Artifact’s 12 days of Christmas, but this winter spiced stout is one of their seasonal beers, so it certainly makes this list.  Closer to the traditional end of winter seasonals, this beer is perfect for drinking in chilly evenings around a fireplace.   Draft only doesn’t mean you can’t bring a howler or a growler home!
  • Tannenbaum – This bourbon barrel aged stock ale is part of the brewery’s 12 days of Christmas line up of limited, small batch holiday beers.  If you don’t make it to the taproom quickly, and on a regular basis, you’ll miss some of these! (In fact, this one is already gone as of posting – make a note for next year!)
  • Mole Milkman – It’s a breakfast stout with chocolate, orange and cinnamon, not too spicy, but full of flavors that will keep your palate surprised with each sip.  Part of the 12 beers of Christmas – gotta go early, gotta go often!
  • Spicecake – This beer has a really fun, different combination of spices like star anise and cinnamon with orange and chocolate which sets loose on all parts of your palate.  12 Beers of Christmas.
  • Yule Log – Another member of Urban Artifact’s 12 Beers of Christmas, this one is a winter spiced stout with maple
  • Caramel Sliderule – The 12 Beers of Christmas also brought us this Chocolate-Raspberry-Caramel Gose this year.  Delicious, but gone already.  Sorry.  Like I said before, go early, go often.
  • Xmas Pickle – If you know me, you know my love for Urban Artifact’s Pickle Gose which was born out of last year’s 12 Beers Of Christmas.  This year, it’s brought back in with an addition of spruce tips… my curiosity is certainly locked on to it.
  • Chocolate Kicksled – This was fantastic, though, it’s part of the 12 beers again…so it might go quick (if not already). The addition of chocolate leaves this one creamy, full-bodied and rich.  Nice!
  • Peppermint Sliderule – You don’t get much more “Christmasy” than a beer with peppermint added (if it’s done correctly). I’m curious to see how it is combined with the Chocolate, Raspberry Gose called Sliderule.
  • Iced Cookie – Finn finally made its way into cans this year, and the Berliner Pale Ale also makes its way into the 12 beers of Christmas with an addition of ginger and lemon.  Santa would love this cookie.  Trust me.
  • Festival of Lights – Tamarind and Vanilla beans make their way into this lager for something a little different in the “series”
  • Dreidel – Hanukkah falls a little later this year, and the brewery is putting out this fruit ale with prunes, dried cherries, lemon zest and dried apples to celebrate.
  • Krampus – This was unlike any thing I think I have ever tasted before.  Like Krampus himself, this beer is sour, smokey and a little spicy.  It hits places on the palate that I’m not sure have ever been hit simultaneously before.  Really fun beer.  Early.  Often.  Don’t miss it!

TinyWoodburnWoodburn Brewery

  • I haven’t received any word yet, but I’ve heard some rumors that Woodburn has a Winter beer or two coming out still.  I’ll be sure to let you know when/if I hear anything about it… but since it was credible – I wanted to include it here!

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