The Best Beers for Getting Through the Holidays

November 26, 2019

By Dan Sheehan, November 26, 2019

Nothing causes stress and joy in equal measure quite like the holidays. On one side, there’s mobbed airports, large amounts of cooking, and gift buying. On the other, time off from work, family, and home-cooked food. Somehow one of the best times of the year can end up being the most stressful if you aren’t prepared—namely, with beer. We’ve done our best to recommend a brew for every situation (though we’d recommend against trying to fit them all into one night).

The Opener

You’ve just walked in with a long day of family time ahead of you. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time, especially when you have a whole day of food and festivities ahead of you. Start slow, tasty, and light with Allagash River Trip.

Touch Football

It’s 17 degrees outside but somehow your cousins have convinced everyone to suit up, go outside, and play in the yard like you’re goddamn teenagers. Avoid frostbite with Harpoon’s Winter Warmer, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. What it lacks in heat, it’ll make up for in festivity. 

Explaining Your Job

Even though you’ve been in the same line of work for going on a decade now, your uncle still needs a refresher on “what it is you do exactly” pretty much every time you see each other. Crack open a warm, strong, New Belgium Trippel and buckle up for a long conversation.

Dinner Time

You’ll need every square inch of stomach space for turkey and stuffing, so drink something easy-going like Three’s Brewing’s Vliet Pilsner. It’s light, refreshing, and pairs perfectly with a giant plate full of meat and sides.

Someone Brought Up Politics

Try to avoid it all you want, but everyone has one family member who’s going to steer the conversation headfirst into the nightmare landscape that is American politics in 2019. Whether you’re gritting your teeth to keep the peace or gearing up for the argument of a lifetime, getting through this intact will justify treating yourself and something a little sweeter, such as 21st Amendment Brewery’s Toaster Pastry India Red Ale.

For Some Reason, You’re In Charge of Your Terrible Nephew

Your brother stepped out to “grab something from the store real quick” and now, for some reason, you’ve become the sole custodian of a very cranky child. Unfortunately, it’s best not to drink and babysit, but with a non-alcoholic Athletic Brewing Co. All Out Stout you can enjoy a nice hearty beer but still be at your sharpest when it comes time to get between a toddler and a low-hanging table.

Your Aunt Asks Why You And Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend Aren’t Married Yet

Somehow this one happens every year. It’s always the same question but each year your excuses get worse and worse. Enjoy a full-bodied Great Lakes Brewery Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and try to filibuster the conversation by playing the eight-minute Gordon Lightfoot classic written for the beer’s namesake. It didn’t work last year but you never know. 

A Long Discussion With Your Sports Cousin

Your cousin John only makes it into town once every few years and the only thing you have in common is that you both like college football. You’d best prepare yourself to talk about it for a least 20 to 45 minutes with a nostalgic college throwback like Rolling Rock. No need to shotgun, just crack a few open and swap old college stories.


The night is winding down and it’s time to treat yourself a little bit. If there’s a day to indulge your sweet tooth, it’s today. Enjoy a Lone Tree Cranberry Saison. It’ll pair well with any and all sweet things, but be careful, it’s pretty strong at 8.5% ABV and your grandma is here.

Drinking In Your Childhood Bedroom

Going home for the holidays can be a little off-putting and it’s easy to regress into your teenage self. If you’re inclined to lean into it, consider secretly imbibing in some Costco Whiskey You Found in the Garage in your childhood bedroom to transport yourself right back to the good old days.

Illustration by Adam Waito

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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