10 Best Holiday Beer Buys of 2013
Little more than a month ago, we feigned surprise at the number of wintry holiday brews on taps and store shelves before Halloween -- as if seasonal creep isn't something that affects beer releases every quarter or so. Here's the issue: Brewers don't sell a whole lot of beer in the last two months of the year, and beer lovers won't even sniff a holiday offering after New Year's Day. Beer shipments that exceed 15 million barrels during peak summer months slowly trickle to about 12 million barrels in December and slightly less during the Thanksgiving holiday season in November, according to the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. That gives brewers more than enough impetus to not only get their holiday and limited-edition winter offerings out there early, but to get you buzzing about them as quickly as possible.
In fairness, you U.S. beer drinkers tend to go to town on seasonal anyway. Market research firm Symphony IRI says seasonal beer sales have risen between 15% to 25% in recent years, leading some folks to suggest that early holiday beer offerings could have the same effect on seasonal retail as the early appearance of decorations or the first strains of All I Want For Christmas Is You played in October. Spending on holiday party cheer is projected to rise to more than $110 this year from $86 per person in 2008. That's a difference of almost a full case per person.
We don't see why those cases can't be enjoyed just as much in November as they are in December. We've already begun sampling some of our favorite selections from 2011 and 2012, but we're continuing our grand holiday tradition of tossing out all but one of the last year's offerings in favor of some new holiday cheer. We hope you enjoy these seasonal tidings as much as we did finding them: