10 PA Craft Beers (Almost) Guaranteed to Improve Your Holidays

You’ve made your list. You’ve checked it twice. And, fingers crossed, you’re done shopping at this point. Now, it’s time for the fun part: figuring out beer to have on hand for the holidays. As always, we suggest you “keep it local” with Pennsylvania beer and support the amazing artisans and producers in our own backyard.

Bring along a growler or a pack of cans to all those holiday parties (or pack it in your family dinner survival kit), using our handy list below:

South County Brewing Gelato Series (Fawn Grove)


Check out the Gelato Series that folks at South County have been brewing. An array of fresh purees, spices and specialty ingredients recreate beer versions of your favorite frozen desserts. Flaked oats add that creamy dreamy mouthfeel that everyone’s so into these days. The release history includes strawberry lemon, pineapple coconut and peach mango. Pair with: vanilla ice cream — trust us on this one. 104 Mill St., Fawn Grove; (717) 382-4016.

Free Will Brewing Relax & Chill (Perkasie)


Even if they aren’t always, shouldn’t the holidays be all about relaxing and chilling? Check out Free Will‘s new release, aptly named Relax & Chill in calming, house plant-inspired 16-ounce cans. This hazy pale ale is brewed with oats and hopped with Simcoe, Calypso and Centennial, offering notes of kiwi, citrus pith, peach and fir with an earthy undertone. It’s just 5.5% ABV, so even though it’s got plenty of texture, you can go for a few rounds and still be in the chill zone. Pair with: CBD chocolates. 410 E. Walnut St., Perkasie; (267) 354-0813.

Funk Brewing Co. Crangerine Squeeshies (Elizabethtown & Emmaus)


If you’re looking for a crushable, fruity beer as your plus-one for Christmas dinner, look no further than Funk Brewing Company‘s Crangerine Squeeshies. This 8.2% ABV culinary IPA is brewed with real cranberry and tangerine, so you can warm up and get in that festive spirit in no time. Cans will released on December 19. Pair with: turkey sandwiches and mashed potatoes (or potato chips). 28 S. Market St., Elizabethtown; (610) 421-8270; 19 South 6th St., Emmaus; (610) 421-8270.

Lavery Brewing Co. Crooked Rhyme English Brown Porter (Erie & Titusville)


Cozy holiday snuggles call for toasty, rich beers that aren’t too high in alcohol. Bring a growler fill of Lavery Brewing Co.’s Crooked Rhyme English Brown Porter to a holiday party or dinner for just the right fit. Plenty of toffee and chocolate notes make it a great option for dessert or fireside sips, too. Pair with: nutty cheeses, roasted sausages, cookies. 113 S Franklin St., Titusville; (814) 775-0406; 128 W. 12th St., Unit 101, Erie; (814) 454-0405.

Hidden River Brewing & Forest and Main’s Message From Reality (Douglassville)


Collaboration beers are very of-the-moment, and this saison from Hidden River and Forest & Main (Ambler) puts two of the region’s finest on the same team. Filled to the brim with clean notes of lemon, alfalfa and a touch of funk, pour it in your glass for a special toast in place of cheap sparkling wine. Pair with: creamy cheeses, caramel corn, oysters. 1808 W. Schuylkill Rd., Douglassville; (484) 880-1167.

Victory Brewing Co. Dirt Wolf (Various locations)


Not everyone wants to drink dark beer in the winter time! There are a gajillion (actual number) double IPAs out there, but we think the finest among them is Dirt Wolf from Victory. So many DIPAs are so sweet, but that’s not what we’re looking for from the style. We want a major punch of resinous hops with bracing bitterness, and tons of citrus and floral character to soften it out. And, of course, a nice little extra kick of booze. Dirt Wolf does all of this, flawlessly. Pair with: cheeseburgers, BBQ. 420 Acorn Ln., Downingtown; (610) 873-0881; 650 West Cypress St., Kennett Square; (484) 730-1870; 3127 Lower Valley Rd., Parkesburg; (484) 718-5080.

Levante Brewing Glitter Parts Baked Apple Crumb Cake (West Chester)


Add some sparkle to your evening with cans of Glitter Parts Baked Apple Crumb Cake New England-style IPA from Levante Brewing. This super-creamy beer is made with Highland Orchard‘s beloved cider donuts and cinnamon, with a decadent mix of toasted coconut, vanilla wafers, graham cracker crumbles and Madagascar vanilla. Expect this to taste pretty much exactly like a tender, delicious apple crumb cake in beer form. Pair with: a shot of bourbon, pork chops. 208 Carter Dr., Suite 2; West Chester; (484) 999-8761.

Highway Manor Micro Flora Diaspora (Camp Hill)


Highway Manor is known for its sour beers, many of which include fruit, like strawberry, plum and citrus. While any of its ales would make a nice addition to a holiday party, we’re partial to its Micro Flora Diaspora, a Belgian-style table beer that’s hopped with New Zealand and Australia hops. Highway Manor’s house yeast strains to creates a dry complex flavor that’s easy drinking (just 4.2% ABV) and food-friendly. Pair with: steamed mussels, quiche, roasted vegetables. 2238 Gettysburg Rd., Camp Hill; (717) 743-0613.

Four Points Brewing Emblem (Charleroi)


If you’ll be hanging out with folks who are wary of craft beer or who claim to just want “beer-flavored beer,” this is a great beer to bring along. Approachable without being too basic, Emblem from Four Points Brewing is a Vienna lager, crisp and malty, easy-drinking and totally crowd-pleasing. Pair with: chicken wings, bratwurst or other sausages. 400 Washington Ave., Charleroi;  (724) 565-5456.

Grist House Udderly Dunked (Pittsburgh)


Pittsburgh-based Grist House is not afraid to put some wild flavors (and ingredients) in its beers. The newly-released Udderly Dunked Imperial Stout is a perfect dessert beer for any holiday gathering where adventurous drinkers are in attendance. This collaboration with Turner’s is made with the local dairy’s Cookies and Cream Milk, clocking in at a hefty 10% ABV for a rich, boozy experience. Pick up a four-pack of cans while they last, and leave one out for Santa if you want an extra good present this year! Pair with: chocolate cookies. 10 Sherman St., Pittsburgh; (412) 447-1442.

What are your must-have PA craft beers for the holidays? Let us know!

  • Feature photo: Free Will Brewing Co.