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Five High-Scoring Beers to Try During the Holidays

Beer reviews of five terrific brews for the holiday season.

Five High-Scoring Beers to Try During the Holidays

Every month, our judges review a bevy of brews from breweries around the world. Though we post each review and highlight them in our Official Review article in each issue, and we detail the highest-scoring beers in our year-end Beer in Review winter edition at the start of each new year, we usually let the reviews do the talking.

Beginning with our Summer Issue #61, we will be highlighting some of the most interesting and high-scoring beers our judges reviewed recently. Read on to explore our selections for our Holiday 2022, Issue 63!

Sunburst IPA by Wild Heaven Beer


Sunburst IPA – Rated 92

Wild Heaven Beer
Decatur, GA

Wild Heaven Beer in Decatur, Georgia is known for a bevy of interesting brews across a plethora of styles, but this is the brewery’s flagship IPA and it overflows with lush, tropical notes with a minor bite of bitterness at the end of the sip that keeps drinkers coming back for more.

While IPAs might not strike you as the most obvious holiday beer style, sometimes (if you’re like me), you still crave a hoppy hit no matter what time of year it is. With that in mind, Wild Heaven’s Sunburst will deliver the goods on that front with ease.

Gonzo Imperial Porter by Flying Dog Brewery


Gonzo Imperial Porter – Rated 98

Flying Dog Brewery
Frederick, MD

Easily the highest-scoring beer on this list, Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter is an astounding achievement in brewing. According to our judge Phil Farrell (now the brewmaster at Stillfire Brewing in Suwanee), “this beer looks perfect in a glass and the grapefruit, pine and resin are evident from arm’s length. Beneath the layer of intense hop aroma is an enticing dark chocolate and nutty roast. The flavor doesn’t disappoint with the same hop flavors complementing a much more complex array of cooked caramel, dark chocolate, coffee and even a little licorice.”

What is surprising about this Baltic porter is its rather high lupulin levels, though that is admittedly a trademark of this stronger dark beer style. Either way, this is a delightful dark beer that would be perfect in colder temperatures.

Espressway by Two Roads Brewing Co.


Espressway – Rated 94

Two Roads Brewing Co.
Stratford, CT

This brew from Two Roads in Connecticut is a wonderful choice for the coffee lovers out there. A “cold brew coffee stout,” it delivers on that promise by combining the rich roastiness of an Ethiopian/Sumatra coffee bean blend with a delightfully tasty oatmeal stout beer base.

According to judge Randy Scorby, “the oats contribute a creamy, silky mouthfeel that enhances the medium-full body and plays well with the moderate carbonation of this beer.” Summing it up, he said: “[this is ] a very well brewed coffee stout, the coffee is well integrated into the malt character and creates a nicely balanced beer.”

Highland Brewing Co. Cold Mountain Winter Ale


Cold Mountain Ale – Rated 90

Highland Brewing Co.
Asheville, NC

This popular seasonal from the best beer city in the South, Asheville, North Carolina, has been delivering a rich, roasty and perfectly spiced flavor for over 25 years since its inception back in 1996. According to the brewery, “this beer is the reason for our biggest party of the year! Each November we kick off the holidays with thousands of our friends and fans at the Cold Mountain release party. Hundreds of people line up for their first Cold Mountain and Imperial Cold Mountain of the year.”

While the original version has plenty of flavor to go around, keep an eye out for special renditions of this seasonal including Coconut Cold Mountain.

Jockamo Juicy IPA by Abita Brewing Co.


Jockamo Juicy IPA – Rated 96

Abita Brewing Co.
New Orleans, LA

Surprisingly, it’s another IPA on this list! However, if you ever get a chance to sample this World Class brew, you’ll know why there’s room in the fridge for it during the holidays. Easy-drinking, eminently flavorful and tipping the scales at only 6% ABV, this is one beer that would be great all year round – including during the holiday season.

Our judge Joseph Formanek put it perfectly: “This is truly a delicious offering in a style that, by its nature, has ample opportunity for issues. Seek this one out if you are looking for a well-crafted New England-style IPA that is both full-flavored and refreshing.”

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