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Christmas Beers & Other Festive Treats

Real ale was a rite of passage for me, one of the pleasures of coming of age. Living in the Midlands, I discovered the delights of mild, a sweet, dark drink that’s rarely available elsewhere. I remember sinking pints of it at a job interview that went so well, it finished in the pub! Today, one of the best examples of the style is Two Towers Birmingham Mild, which Marty, Brummie hero of The Vodka Trail rather likes as well.

Luckily for dark beer fans, Christmas brings a crush of winter warmers with it. Here are my favourites – some available only in their locality, others nationwide. Bottoms up!

Let’s start with Two Towers. Their Sleighed Porter is dark as night, sweet with liquorice, and served at their Brum brewery tap from a pump decorated with a cartoon of local(ish) boy, Noddy Holder. Deceptively strong, it slips down a treat.

Moving south west, Bath Ales Festivity is widely on sale in supermarkets, so buy a few bottles to crack open on Christmas Day. It’s a quaffable porter with a hint of coffee.

Even better, if you can find it, is the Bristol Beer Factory’s Bristletoe. An oatmeal porter, it’s chocolatey and moreish. If the lady loves Milk Tray, give her this tall, dark handsome stranger to try.

Twisted Ales, in the shadow of the White Horse of Westbury, has concocted a festive beer that would drink well in summertime too. Crafty Santa is a well-balanced amber ale with a clean malt and a hoppy background. Extremely refreshing, it’s a great beer to knock back after Christmas shopping.

Deepest Oxfordshire has produced some fine brews too. Hook Norton Twelve Days is fruity like a barley wine, although not quite as strong – ideal for melting your icicles in the darkest depths of winter. Bah Humbug from Wychwood is another Oxfordshire winter warmer. Widely available in bottles, it’s golden and spicy.

Finally, slip across to Rudgwick in Sussex, where the Firebird Brewing Company unashamedly calls its Old Ale XXXX a “warming winter beer”.  It’s black, smooth and slightly smoky, and totally delivers on Firebird’s promise.

This winter, my hero will be spoiled for choice!

What’s your favourite? Drop me a line at aaabbottstories[at]gmail.com

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As well as drinking craft beers, I write crime thrillers and short stories. There’s a rather sweet Christmassy tale in short story collection Festive Treats, an Amazon No 1 with contributions from 15 writers. You can get it FREE here.