For craft beer lovers in the Hudson Valley, the most wonderful time of the year is here. After all, when else is it possible to sip and savor the seasonal brews that pop up as magically as an Elf on the Shelf? Each winter, local breweries go above and beyond to embrace flavor notes that run the gamut from creamy, cozy chocolate to crisp pine needles in the snow. Plus, several go the extra mile and deck their cans with festive labels.
So, for the beer fans in your life, skip the same ol’ collectible stein and get them what they really want – a six-pack (or more) of the Hudson Valley’s most festive holiday beers. They might not all fit in one stocking, but we’re sure there’s plenty of room under the tree or next to the menorah to add an extra touch of seasonal cheer.
Middletown and New Paltz
Our pick: Freight Train
ABV: 10 percent
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Clemson Bros. Brewery’s imperial milk stout really does have a 10-percent ABV. The boozy brew is full of flavor, with a dark color that hints at the swirling harmony of chocolate, espresso, toffee, and roasted oats inside. The beverage is brewed with lactose and vanilla beans to give it a creamy, malty body. In other words, it’s the perfect alternative for beer lovers who want something other than spiked eggnog during the next holiday present-wrapping session.
Our pick: Straight Outta The Marshmallow Laboratory
ABV: 10 percent
When the hot cocoa at home isn’t cutting it, head over to this Valley gem or any affiliates in the region. It wouldn’t surprise us if someone told us this colorful can came straight outta Jet-Puffed bag. It’s hopped with citra and brewed with tons of marshmallows. But the ABV doesn’t lie: this can will do much more than Swiss Miss ever could.
Beacon and Garnerville
Our pick: Winter Landscape
ABV: 5.4 percent
A heavy hitter for the darkest, deepest winter nights in the Hudson Valley, Industrial Arts’ Munich-style dunkel is more than a little alluring. Heady notes of toasted crusty bread and bittersweet chocolate mark the unique dark lager. While the beer itself is a dream for chilly upstate evenings, it’s also the perfect gift for anyone who wants to do a little good, too. With every purchase, Industrial Arts donates 100 percent of profits to The Red Hawk Native American Arts Council.
Our pick: Brownie Batter
ABV: 14.5 percent
Sticking with the holiday chocolate and drinks theme, this pastry stout is the equivalent of adult candy. While middle-piece and corner-piece brownie enthusiasts can fight all night, there’s no arguing the rich, silky body of this dessert beer. Plus, it’s a collaboration with Valley-based Cardoso Cookies, so you know it’s made from masters.
Our pick: Angry Eggbert IPA
ABV: 7 percent
This wouldn’t be a true Hudson Valley holiday beer list without a mention of what’s arguably the most iconic seasonal sip in the region. For anyone who hasn’t sampled a serving of Angry Eggbert, the brew is named such in honor of the region’s folkloric egg and tastes like a mix of spruce needles and bold, juicy hops. It’s a must for anyone who adores the smell of Christmas trees (or just pine-scented candles).
Our pick: The Good, The Bad, The Argyle
ABV: 6.5 percent
Pair your ugly Christmas sweater with this winter-patterned IPA. A 10th anniversary beer, this can is packed with the Peekskill Brewery staff’s fave hops and has festive flavors—making it a perfect go-to for long-winded (and sometimes painful) conversations during the holidays.
Our pick: Practically Magic
ABV: 4.7 percent
The definition of an easy drinking beer, Rare Form’s magical brew makes the dark days of winter disappear with a single sip. This beer is the perfect drink for anyone who dreams of an exotic getaway whenever the snowfall descends upon the Hudson Valley. With notes of fresh lime and toasted coconut, this sour ale is a tropical escape in a can. Pair it with a playlist that features “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and you have everything you need to gift a socially distant staycation from the comfort of home.
Hudson (retail only)
Our pick: Heathenous
ABV: 8 percent
Returning to Hudson and our hearts is, of course, Return Brewing. This means its spooky and fantastical cans are here to stay this winter. Though it stands out from the rest of our list, it reflects the empty, dead state of the season and the activities we Valleyites partake in to keep the party goin’ (whether it be heading to the bars or summoning demons). It has top notes of gooseberry and white wine, with a tropical flavor and a dry finish.
Our pick: (No) Santa
ABV: 6 percent
You might not believe in Santa, but you best believe this NEIPA is saving Christmas this year. Rather than typical winter flavors like candy cane or cinnamon, (No) Santa is chock-full of cotton candy and green grape notes. Sloop puts it best: “This beer is in honor of all those who know you don’t need over-marketed ‘flavors of Christmas’ to enjoy a beer with the holidays.”
Our pick: Dark Harvest
ABV: 6.8 percent
Winter means stout and porter season! And what better way to embrace the cold than with Subversive’s flagship stout? It’s dark, it’s roast-y—it’s to the point. It’s also something we desperately need to kick us into gear during out winter blues (or upcoming post-holiday slump).
Our pick: Dark Hollow
ABV: 6.2 percent
Yes, West Kill takes the crown when it comes to can art. We’ll die on this hill! Its can art—and velvety pour—reminds us of brisk walks at night to warm chariots (cars) that await us. Like a moth to a flame, we’ll keep coming back to this iconic brewery for chocolate-y porters. Did we mention it’s aged with Fruition Chocolate cacao nibs?
Our pick: Mall Santa
ABV: 6.5 percent
Nowadays, you wouldn’t stand in line for a mall Santa… but you would for the Mall Santa NEIPA. Grab a glass and stay a while, or stock up on four-packs for yourself and friends. We’re sure they (and Paul Blart) will get a kick out of the can art. It’s juicy and jolly, with El Dorado, Mosaic, and Motueka ho-ho-hops.