Siren: ‘Hit the Ice’ Hoppy Pale Ale

4% abv/ 330ml/ £2.80

Named after a (literal) slip up at the brewery’s Christmas party, this was actually released back in August as a limited edition cask and keg affair. Fortunately for us all, the chaps at Siren liked it so much that they’ve re-released it in bottle, so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home!

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Really nice and sharp hoppy notes on this one. It has a full and fresh, citrusy-grapefruity aroma with just a hint of passion fruit that carries onto the palate of zesty, dry bitterness. Medium bodied and good carbonation make this a wonderfully refreshing brew.

Magic Rock/Dixon’s Milk Ice: ‘Dairy Freak’ Milk Ice Porter

5.2% abv/ 330ml/ £2.20

This may well be my favourite beer this week – if nothing else for the idea that a brewery and an ice cream company could get together to make something so tasty.

It’s got a nose of coffee, cocoa, slight toasty notes and a vanilla sweetness that reminds me a bit of cola. A nice, thick and milky texture and a really gentle fizz gives it a fantastic body. Those cola hints are definitely there on the palate, which kind of morphs into a creamy chocolate milkshake on the finish. If you like your beers with a bit of sweetness to them this is definitely one to try but there’s still a hint of bitterness at the end to keep the flavours a bit more grown-up.

Abbaye des Rocs: ‘Speciale Noël’ Belgian Strong Ale

9% abv/ 330ml/ £4.00

I thought I’d better include at least one ‘official’ Christmas beer this week – although to be fair I would drink this all year round if I could. Once again the Belgians are showing the rest of us how it’s done; the balance on this is just perfect. Lovely, rich layers on the nose of burnt caramel, dried fig, honey and subtle cinnamon spice. The palate is full of dried fruits, orange, toffee and spice but retains a refreshingly tangy note. Malted characters develop on the finish, which is long and delicious. Seriously; if you’re only going to buy one festive beer this year, make it this one.

Cross Borders: ‘Heavy’ Bitter Ale

4.1% abv/ 330ml/ £2.90

I’m told that this is one of David’s ‘Beers of the Year’ (a high accolade indeed) and it’s easy to see why. ‘Malty, rich, braw’ - it does exactly what it says on the tin. This is a great example of a no-frills beer done really well. Cold brew coffee and malty notes on the nose are followed by a rich flavour but fairly light body. This is officially my Boxing Day beer as the delicate sweet notes, mildly bitter finish and abv that won’t blow your head off are just crying out for cheese and pickled onions in front of the fire.