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These Beers are Better Than Nog

December 27, 2017

By Joshua Bernstein, December 27, 2017

With a last name like Bernstein, there’s no hiding that I light a menorah’s candles and celebrate Hanukah’s eight flickering nights.

My lineage is a little more confusing, and I’ve consumed more eggnog than you might imagine. Mom was raised Catholic, later aligning with Dad’s Judaism. The mixed upbringing manifested itself during the holidays, when we dunked fried latkes, or potato pancakes, in applesauce while sipping store-bought eggnog.

The viscous texture was a total turnoff, creamy nasal discharge sprinkled with enough nutmeg to make a pumpkin beer. Tradition never translated to pleasure, and eggnog slowly faded from our fridge. Even as a grown-up, or whatever I am now, liquor-spiked nog won’t float my boat. Give me bourbon or beer, that’s how I take my seasonal cheer.

Happily, brewing is abuzz with beers that are ace alternatives to eggnog, embracing the best attributes of winter and the maligned cocktail – minus the nauseating effects.

When you’re with in-laws and the conversational well runs drier than an overcooked ham, or talk to turns to politics, break out a bottle of white stout. It’s a banter-boosting, fool-the-eye style that finds brewers infusing a blonde or golden ale with coffee and maybe cacao nibs, creating flavors or aromas evocative of stouts but with a color closer in complexion to a snowdrift.

Evil Twin’s forthcoming release is a holiday-appropriate IPA packed with egg whites, lactose, nutmeg, & vanilla.”

On other hand, if eggnog’s creaminess is actually a selling point, you’ll have a cow over the milkshake IPA. The subset is fortified with lactose, a non-fermentable milk sugar that boosts body and mouthfeel, imparting a lick of lollipop sweetness. Tired Hands and Omnipollo popularized the practice, infusing the textural IPAs with a range of fruits. Now, milkshake IPAs have gone global, made by everyone from Denmark’s Alefarm Brewing to Minneapolis’ Dangerous Man and Modist, and Toronto’s Bellwoods, which offers the Milkshark series.

Perhaps you’ve reached this point in the article and you’re shaking your head, wondering, What kind of heathen hates eggnog? Don’t fret, my friends, for several beers are ably tuned to your seasonal tastes. Lately, breweries have begun applying eggnog’s spice template – nutmeg, vanilla, bourbon – to create merry-making milk stouts such as Burnt Hickory’s Noggin’ Knocker and Spring House Brewing’s The Martians Kidnap Santa!

One sip, and you’ll never go back to nog again.

Noble Ale Works
Naughty Sauce

“We were just trying to do something different, and perhaps give the drinker a little mind-fuck,” Noble head brewer Brad Kominek told All About Beer about Naughty Sauce. The see-through “stout” is brewed with oats, lactose and loads of coffee, the aroma as potent as a freshly brewed Folger’s. “We liked the idea of someone saying, ‘How does it look like this, but taste like THIS?!’”

Evil Twin Brewing
Eggnog IPA

The Brooklyn-based gypsy brewery has never been bashful about lobbing a Molotov cocktail at brewing conventions, embracing the culinary world and lobbing donuts and fried chicken into their beer. Here, Evil Twin’s release is a holiday-appropriate IPA packed with egg whites, lactose, nutmeg, and vanilla. Consider it a hop head’s yuletide treat.

Michael KiserCoconut Milk may be a little black and white for you – you either love it or hate it.

Fieldwork Brewing Company
Coconut Milk

For each batch of this luau-ready double IPA, the Bay Area brewery hand-toasts 100 pounds of coconuts and makes it snow lactose. Fieldwoks then tosses enough tropical hops to fill a swimming pool, creating this luscious and toasty sail across your taste buds. It’d be right at home at a tiki bar, or in your right hand as you dream of warmer days to come.

Rhinegeist and Three Weavers Brewing Company
Penguin Blonde Stout

Three Weavers’ head of sales, Omar Douglas, is terrified of penguins. Naturally, Rhinegeist cofounder – and old buddy – Bryant Goulding decided he’d never let his friend forget his fear by naming this collaborative blonde stout after his nightmare fuel. It nixes roasted barley, instead getting its roasty, chocolaty notes courtesy of coffee and cacao nibs. Oats make Penguin smoother than a fresh slalom down the slopes.

Gun Hill Brewing Company
Mosaic Soft Serve

Increasingly, ice cream has become a brewing motif, most notably with Stone’s strawberry-like Neapolitan Dynamite. Here, the Bronx brewery makes a wee IPA – like, 3% alcohol by volume – that’s plumped out with lactose and dosed with Mosic hops for a dank charge of blueberry and pine. Buy a four-pack. Soft Serve’s low alcohol means you’ll never be licked.

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