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Santa has a sackful of fine Xmas beers

Added: Thursday, December 7th 2023

Xmas 2023

First out of the blocks with Christmas beers is the ever popular Rosey Nosey from Bateman’s Brewery in Lincolnshire.

It’s a phenomenally successful brew for the family brewery based in Wainfleet since 1874. Sales of the beer, on draught and in bottle (4.9%), have grown by 22 per cent year on year since 2009 and the brewery struggles to keep up with demand every Christmas.

It’s brewed with pale, crystal and chocolate malts and is hopped with Challenger and Goldings varieties. There’s rich raisin and sultana fruit on the aroma and palate with biscuit malt and spicy hops. The bottled version is on sale in Morrison’s and other leading retailers.

Greene King from Suffolk also enjoys great success with Rocking Rudolph (4.2%), also on draught as well as bottle. The beer stands out from the crowd as a result of its amazing hop recipe, with Bramling Cross, Challenger, First Gold, Goldings and Target all-English varieties. Blended with pale and crystal malts, the beer has a rich and entrancing character of toasted grain, blackcurrant fruit, fresh herbs and peppery hops. The bottled version is on sale in Morrison’s with the draught available in Greene King pubs.

Another complex beer to enjoy with festive food is Blitzen (4%) from the Black Sheep Brewery in Yorkshire. Along with pale malt and wheat, the beer is hopped with Cascade and Goldings varieties and there are additions of moscovado sugar and orange and mixed peels. Not surprisingly, it’s a rich-tasting brew with powerful notes of sweet malt, caramel and citrus fruits. It’s on sale in branches of Morrison’s.

Shepherd Neame in Faversham is Britain’s oldest brewery, dating from 1698, and it’s seen a goodly number of Christmases in its time. It’s based in the heart of the Kentish hop fields and its Christmas Ale (7%) uses Challenger, Goldings and Target to good effect, with a rich blend of herbal, pepper and spice notes. They blend well with pale and crystal malts to create a powerful brew with biscuit malt and caramelised fruits on aroma and palate. It’s available from the brewery’s online shop

In sharp contrast, the Titanic Brewery in Stoke-on-Trent dates from 1985 and was one of the first of the new breed of independent breweries that challenged the power of the national brewers. Its founder, Keith Bott, helped found SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, which campaigned successfully for reform to excise duty on beer that has seen small brewers pay less in tax than the bigger producers.

At a time when the beer market is dominated by pale ales and lagers, it’s remarkable to discover that the biggest-selling beer at Titanic is a dark beer called Plum Porter (4.9%). It’s so popular with drinkers that they have formed a club called Plummers and they hold regular talks and tastings.

It’s an ideal beer for the festive season and Keith Bott and his team have added two special versions of the beer, Plum Porter and Cherry Porter Grand Reserve (6.5%). Fruit essence is added to the beers that are made with pale, crystal, amber and Munich malts and Admiral and Bramling Cross hops. The beers have sweetness from the fruit with a firm balance of tart and tangy hops.

Regular Plum Porter is on sale in selected branches of Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. The Grand Reserve beers can be bought online from