American brews to warm you this winter

I’m sure I’m not the only one packing my bags for a holiday this Christmas. In less than a weeks’ time I’ll be flying over to America to spend the holidays with family and friends in the craft beer capital of America – New England.

To get into the spirit, the Brewers Association very kindly sent me several American beers to get ready for the festive season. All the brews are over 11% ABV in typical American style and will definitely warm you up this Christmas!

Epic Brewing Company’s Smoked & Oaked

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Epic’s Belgian-styled ale Smoked & Oaked packs a lot of punch at a whopping 11.5% ABV. A splendidly warming beer, it brings to mind the image of enjoying a cognac next to a fire at the end of the evening. In traditional Belgian fashion it is cloudy in appearance but this beer has an American twist – batch-aged in whiskey barrels, it leaves an incredibly pleasant scotch-like aftertaste. This is a special and flavourful ale – perfect for sharing at the end of a Christmas meal.

New Holland Brewing Dragon’s Milk

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Just one sip of Dragon Milk conjures a fire-breathing dragon to my mind! At 11% ABV this stout is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, it tastes more like a spirit than your typical brew. A stout that has been aged in a bourbon barrel, it is incredibly rich and strong. I tasted an almost coconut flavour, which mixed with the bourbon brought a tropical cocktail to mind. If you like your beer to pack a lot of punch to go with your dessert, this is the one for you.

Lickinghole Creek’s Magnificent Pagan Beast

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It took a lot of courage to open this beer – at 17.5% ABV and using more than six pounds of hops per barrel, this beer will knock your socks off! Buying this beer is a challenge on its own – this bottle is not distributed and only available directly from Lickinghole Creek brewery in Virginia at specific times of the year.

Self-described as a “monster of a beer”, this brew is conditioned in Kentucky bourbon barrels for four months and takes a total of eight years to produce. I’m not usually a fan of bourbon, so the first sniff coupled with the 17.5% ABV made me rather hesitant, but I’m so glad I dived in. Packed with flavour while still retaining a perfect balance and smoothness, every sip left me wanting more. A truly magnificent beer, this deserves to be the centrepiece on the Christmas table – and shared by many!

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