Best beers for your holiday feasts

Fit these selections into your entertainment plans.
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Pairing the right alcohol with a holiday meal is more important than ever, especially with Grand Rapids’ emphasis on making — and drinking — good beer over the past several years.

Those decisions can be hard, as the offerings continue to grow, and the shelves become more crowded. Thankfully, Grand Rapids has no shortage of great stores to help select the right drink to accompany the dinner plate.

One of those is Rishi’s International Beverage, which has some of the best selections of beer, wine and spirits in the city.

A key piece of what helps make Rishi’s special is Rishi Makkar himself, who often can be found behind the counter or walking the aisles of the store. Makkar always seems to have tasted nearly everything in the store and easily can point curious customers in the right direction.

That especially helps when planning a big holiday meal when a host might need a few new drinks to open guests’ eyes.

Sierra Nevada Celebration

If there’s one seasonal beer I always buy the first time I see it in stores each year, it’s Sierra Nevada Celebration. The fresh hop IPA is incredible, an accessible, not overly bitter beer that’s perfect for sipping throughout a holiday. Its festive red label doesn’t hurt, either.

Founders Breakfast Stout

Locally made checks a box, but Founders Breakfast Stout is one of the best stouts in the country. With notes of coffee and chocolate, it helps balance out a meal — before or after. Its ‘roastiness’ and viscous body make it a warming winter-sipper as well.

Anchor Christmas Ale

Another beer from a craft pioneer in Northern California, Anchor Christmas Ale changes every year, just like its label — which features a different hand-drawn Christmas tree each year. It’s often dark and malty with a touch of winter spices.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

Another Michigan beer — one with a GR taproom, no less! — Jolly Pumpkin’s Noel de Calabaza is a great beer to pair with pretty much any holiday meal. Jolly Pumpkin is one of the country’s original and premier sour beer makers, but this Belgian dark ale isn’t overly acidic and features layered malty, dark fruit and chocolate notes.

Bell’s Christmas Ale

Yet another Michigan beer that would be right at home on a list of national holiday beers, Bell’s Christmas Ale is a staple at plenty of holiday parties across the Midwest. The hearty Scotch Ale is big with its boozy caramel notes. Holiday hint: Bell’s website has a gingerbread cookie recipe featuring the beer.

This story can be found in the November/December 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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