The Yuletide Brew: A Look into the History of Christmas Beers

Take a sip down memory lane and discover the history of Christmas beers and how they became a holiday tradition.

The Yuletide Brew: A Look into the History of Christmas Beers
History of Christmas beer

‘Tis the season to be jolly and tipsy from indulging in yummy Christmas beer. Heck yeah, beer invaded even Christmas. How else did you think Santa got his (beer) belly?

Where did the Christmas beer come from?

Eduard von Grützner. Oil on panel, 40 cm x 50.8 cm.

The Christmas beer actually dated back to a pre-Christian era where Vikings brewed winter beers to honour their Norse Gods and the winter solstice. After Christianity was introduced to the region in the 10th century, King Haakon I ordained that each household had to brew Christmas beers and host a party to honour the Christian God and their new holiday. Failure to comply resulted in fines and would even cost them their land. Centuries later, the Norwegian legislative assembly - the Gulating - officially formalised the King’s beer decree.

Image credit: Brett Jordan

Even back then, brewers took great pride in their creations; they only used the best grains sourced from their farms to ensure that their beers were of the highest quality. Afterall, the brewers’ statuses were dependent on both the quality and uniqueness of their beers. In addition, a good Christmas beer was also required to be strong, so brewers often used tobacco, sugar, and syrups to intensify their brews.

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In the 1920s, Stella Artois - a malty Belgian lager - made its debut as a Christmas beer and became one of the most ubiquitous beers ever since. The “Stella” in its name alludes to the shining Christmas star that guided the three Magi to baby Jesus.

What does it taste like?
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You may be wondering, what exactly constitutes a Christmas beer? Well, Christmas beers are dark, malty beers with beautifully blended notes of cinnamon and clove. This delightful winter beverage is basically the alcoholic pumpkin spice latte of fall.

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Christmas beers typically have flavours and aromas that will immerse you in the festive spirit. From spicy warm beers to beers with all that chocolatey goodness, you will definitely have a cosy and luxurious time with a Christmas beer by your side.

Winter beer vs Christmas beer
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While winter may be synonymous with Christmas for many of us, winter beers and Christmas beers are not exactly the same. To put it simply, all Christmas beers are winter beers, but not vice versa.

Winter beers are a wider and more general category, and can consist of a variety of beer styles, including ales, barley wines, stouts, porters and quadrupels. Winter beers are typically dark, rich, and spicy - perfect for keeping you warm on harsh winter nights.

History of Christmas beer

Now that you know all about Christmas beers, you can stock up on these festive and delicious winter beverages to ensure that you have a beer-y Merry Christmas!

The Yuletide Brew: A Look into the History of Christmas Beers

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