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Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Best holiday beers for dad

  • Lots of winter beers are available right now. If you want a gift that will be appreciated, try some of these local brews.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Lots of winter beers are available right now. If you want a gift that will be appreciated, try some of these local brews.

  • Lots of winter beers are available.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Lots of winter beers are available.

It's late in the Christmas gift-buying season and Dad hasn't been crossed off the list.
Sure there's socks or a tie, but that seems a little boring for the man who produced life.
Maybe a mug or something for his office, but all that's going to do is remind him he needs coffee on a daily basis to get through this slog called life.
So think big and think beer this holiday season.
How excited would Dad be to find a 22-ounce bottle of dark beer in his stocking ... or at the very least, give him that to go in the mug.
So consider this your cheat sheet to get Dad the best local holiday beer for him to crack after a long day of painful conversations with relatives, Santa-impersonating and decking the halls.
Because the Northwest is a hotbed for craft beers, I bought as many local holiday beers I could find (see sidebar) and gathered some of the best dads I know for a holiday-beer taste testing. What we came up with is the best local holiday beers to buy Dad so he's more jolly-old elf than steely-eyed grinch.
1 Boundary Bay Cabin Fever
ABV: 7 percent
This Bellingham brewery is well-known for making great beer and Cabin Fever is no exception. Pouring a dark mahogany color, the taste is malty and full and will definitely warm the cockles of dad's heart. Another nice part is the ABV (alcohol by volume) isn't as large as most of the holiday beers we tried so Dad will be able to carve the ham without harm. It's not the easiest beer to find but it's well worth it.
2 No-Li Winter Warmer
ABV: 7.5 percent
Formerly known as Northern Lights Brewing Company, No-Li Brewhouse was rebranded earlier this year and the proof is in the pudding: They're making great beer in Spokane. Their Winter Warmer has a nice floral aroma and is really smooth. Unlike most holiday beers, which are dark in color, it pours a beautiful ruby color and has notes of cherry in flavor. The beer has a nice finish and is really smooth.
3 Fremont Abominable Ale
ABV: 8 percent
This dark mahogany beer was the darkest beer we tried and was closer to a porter than an ale and there was not a speck of light passing through it. It's heavy but not too heavy and has notes of coffee, licorice and chocolatey malt that make for a great mouth feel and taste. Get this to help Dad warm up after spending Christmas day in the cold climes, maybe shoveling snow or skiing down it. Also it's the only one that we tried that came in a can.
Honorable mention: North Sound Big R
This was arguably our favorite beer of the night, but it didn't make the top three because it isn't bottled. One of the dads brought in a growler straight from the Mount Vernon brewery and this American strong ale was the hoppiest beer we tried. It pours a dark red and finishes strong and lingers in a good way. The best way to get this is take a growler to North Sound Brewery and have them fill it up.

In the end, getting Dad beer for Christmas is really a no-brainer (unless of course Dad hates beer or maybe shouldn't drink beer for a myriad of reasons) and you can't really go wrong with holiday beers. Whether dark with big flavor and finish or hoppy with notes of fruit, holiday beers pack a punch and will help warm up Dad on those cold, winter nights.

List of local holiday beers tested
Boundary Bay Cabin Fever
Diamond Knot Ho Ho Ho
Dick's Double Diamond Winter Ale
Fremont Abominable Ale
Harmon Steep and Deep Winter Ale
Lazy Boy Mistletoe Bliss
Maritime Jolly Roger Christmas Ale
No-Li Winter Warmer
North Sound Brewery Big R Imperial Red
Pyramid Snow Cap
Red Hook Winter Hook
Scuttlebutt 10 Below

Where to buy
Many of the beers we tried can be found at most grocery stores in the region, including Safeway, QFC, Haggan, etc. For the tougher to find beers (Harmon, No-Li, Boundary Bay), check out these local beer specialty shops:
Norm's Market
10027 Lundeen Park Way, Lake Stevens
Special Brews
14608 Hwy 99, Suite 307, Lynnwood
Big Star Beers
1117 N. Northgate Way, Seattle
Chuck's 85th
656 NW 85th St., Seattle

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