Special Holiday Beers and Beverages in San Francisco

In San Francisco, “Holiday cheer” means something as unique as the city itself. San Francisco Travel has some recommendations for the best brews of the season, many of which are only available for a limited time.

Anchor Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale

It’s that highly-anticipated time of year, when Anchor releases their famous Christmas Ale, which has a different (and closely guarded) recipe each year. The tradition is now in its 42nd year, the 2017 edition is a smooth and creamy winter warmer with rich flavors of cacao, toffee and roasted nuts, and subtle hints of honey and herbal spice.

Anchor Distilling Company’s Old Potrero Single Malt Hotaling’s Whiskey

Anchor does more than just beer and while this special release isn’t a brew, it still warrants a mention on this list. This unusual whiskey has been aged for 16 years in once-used, charred oak whiskey barrels. Many of the finest Scottish single malts are aged in the same manner. The method of producing this Hotaling’s Whiskey is identical to the other Old Potrero whiskeys: it is a pot-distilled spirit from a mash of 100% malted rye. Only the barrel aging is different.

Barrel Head Brewhouse’s Winter Scotch Ale

The juicy details on this seasonal brew—including its official name—are still under wraps. While you wait, visit this lively establishment just a stone’s throw from Golden Gate Park and sample their new cocktail, the Girl Scout Hustle. It’ll taste just like everyone’s favorite Thin Mints, but packing a bit more of a punch!

Black Sands Brewery’s Oil As Embers

This might not sound like it would be easy going down (fire and oil?), but this milk stout will be perfect for a crisp winter evening. Oil As Embers is full-bodied, with massive coffee flavors and a dry finish. Visit Black Sands Brewery in the Lower Haight neighborhood.

Harmonic Brewing’s Seasonal Offerings

This low-key, friendly microbrewery in the Dogpatch neighborhood is always experimenting with the flavors of the season. Currently, you can enjoy a range of special small batch brews, from the light and moderately tart Passion Aggression Kettle-Sour to the big but balanced Big Cush Double IPA.

Laughing Monk Brewery’s Winter Bough

In the south end of the city, Laughing Monk is whipping up this Belgian Quad for the holidays. A first-time release, it’s made with chocolate, Andytown coffee, and oak spirals.

Local Brewing Company’s Seasonal Offerings

Local Brewing Company’s Winter Sweater Imperial Porter will instantly transport you to a comfy chair in front of a roaring fireplace. Made with chocolate malt, vanilla beans, and even graham crackers, this Imperial Porter will absolutely be in high demand. Also sample their Ugly Winter Sweater Dark Sour, a very complex brew that was aged for one year in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel from neighboring Bluxome St. Winery. Expect their SoMa storefront to be extra busy.

Magnolia Brewing Company’s Chocolate George

Working together with Recchiuti Confections, Magnolia Brewing is proud to debut this deliciously smooth Belgian-style stout. Recchiuti provided the cocoa beans and Magnolia’s owner and brewmaster Dave McLean did the rest. This limited edition creation is only available at Magnolia’s Haight Street location.

Magnolia Brewing Company’s Winter Warmer

This is Magnolia’s traditional holiday offering, which they’ve served up for almost 20 years now. The minimal hop character allows the large quantity of Maris Otter and crystal malts to develop into layers of nutty, biscuit, caramel, toffee, raisin and prune notes with a hint of heat.

Moylan’s Brewing Company’s White Christmas Spiced Winter Ale

This brewery and restaurant across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County is proud to serve this Belgian-style ale, brewed with orange zest, cinnamon and coriander. The White Christmas Spiced Winter Ale is malty and smooth with a zesty finish.

Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA

This popular brewer isn’t hard to find in stores, but there’s a special way to enjoy this intense, hop-forward holiday beer while you’re in San Francisco. Join Off the Grid and the Union Square Business Improvement District at the seasonal Winter Walk on Stockton Street every Wednesday for Craft Beer & Crafts, a fun event presented in collaboration with The Museum of Craft and Design.

Triple Voodoo Brewery’s Inception

This delightful brewery and tap room in Dogpatch is about to have Inception on tap. This Belgian golden strong is hoppier than most Belgians ales, yet classic and very drinkable. The brewmasters say it has a spicy yet fruity taste that’s sure to please the palette.

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