The holiday season provides the perfect chance to eat, drink and be merry. And whether you’re shopping for yourself, your friends or that someone special, beer makes for the perfect gift. Though beer is a relatively easy gift to purchase, there’s something so personal about it, and it’s a gift that feels just as good to give as it does to get. And sharing it with your friends and family isn’t half bad either.

From Winter Warmers, Stouts and Holiday Ales to Spiced Ales, Winter Ales and Porters, there are plenty of unique beer styles to spend some time with during this time of year. These styles offer plenty of hearty flavors to combat the cold winter weather—roasted malts and barley, chocolate, toasted marshmallow, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, licorice and star anise to name a few. Whether you’re wrapping presents, roasting chestnuts on an open fire or hanging your stockings on the chimney with care, there really isn’t a bad time to imbibe one of these delicious styles of the season.

To make your life a little bit easier, here are seven ready-made options that will make you the hit of your holiday bottle exchange and basically the overall MVP of Christmas:       

Great Lakes Brewing Company Blackout Stout (Russian Imperial Stout, 9% ABV): Bitter chocolate, licorice and roasted malts dominate the nose before an immediate warming sensation comes along with the first sip thanks to its 9.0 ABV. Named for an infamous 2003 blackout that left 55 million people without power, this creamy and hefty Russian Imperial Stout, which pours an intense black, features chocolate, subtle coffee and star anise notes as well as licorice and big flavorful roasted malts.

Saranac Holiday Ale (Spiced Winter Ale, 6.2% ABV): Led by a bouquet of holiday spices, such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, this holiday ale is an easy drinker, one that’s probably better suited for the novice Christmas/Holiday/Spice Ale drinkers out there, someone that’s just getting their feet wet in the style. There’s subtle dark fruit with faint touches of dates and fig. The 32oz growler-style bottle also makes for a nice presentation and a nice gift idea—one you don’t even have to wrap.

Troegs Mad Elf (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 11% ABV): A staple of holiday drinking, gift giving and/or bottles exchanges. Toasted malt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, earthy yeast and subtle boozy aromas mingle on the nose, while cherry, honey and caramel follow through on the palette. If you’re planning on cracking a few of these this season, be warned—Troegs Mad Elf drinks dangerously smooth for 11 percent, so remain wary of how many you’ve had.

Southern Tier Choklat (Chocolate Imperial Stout, 10% ABV): Caramel, cocoa powder, sweet Belgian chocolate, toasted marshmallow, vanilla, faint coffee—Southern Tier Choklat is all of these things. A massive malt chocolate nose leads to a thick and creamy mouthfeel of semi-bitter chocolate. It has boozy tendencies and a strong malt character throughout.   

Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout (Milk/Sweet Stout, 5%): As the lightest beer you’ll find on this list, Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout smells hauntingly delicious, akin to that of Whoppers candy. It pours black as night with a rich, frothy head. Chocolate milk, nuts, chocolate malt, cocoa powder, dark roasted coffee and sugars play throughout. This beer could easily be described as liquid Whoppers.

Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale (Anchor Christmas Ale)(Winter Warmer, 5.5% ABV): Another staple when it comes to holiday drinking. Due to the fact that the bottle label and the beer recipe vary year to year, Anchor Christmas Ale is a must-have year in and year out. The 2015 version features big spices, vanilla and dark cherry at the outset, which is followed by figs, dates, dark fruits (prunes, raisins) and molasses. Available in six-packs or the much more gift-friendly 50.7 ounce or 1.5 liter (yes, you read that correctly), magnum bottle.

Resurgence Brewing Company Festivus Belgian Winter Ale (Biere de Noel, 6.7% ABV): Better known as Bier de Noel, this Belgian Dark Strong Ale is brewed in the kettle for 7 hours and is loaded with toasted malts, white chocolate, bourbon and coffee, which comes from Jingle Bell Java beans, made by the Mystic Monk Coffee Company in Wyoming (yes, coffee made by actual Trappist monks). This beer is a conversation starter and can b2e had by the growler or the crowler at the brewery.

You can purchase these beers and many more at:

You can also grab any last minute drinking accessories, homebrew equipment and barware at