To help narrow your choices, San Diego beer shop and tasting room Bottlecraft has these three recommendations, one which was banned at one time. They are available at Bottlecraft’s four San Diego locations: Little Italy, North Park, Liberty Station and Oceanside.
Brouwerij Huyghe “Delirium Noël” – Belgian Winter Ale
Many will recognize Delirium Tremens, the Belgian strong blond ale that was once banned in the U.S. due to its pink elephant mascot which was thought to encourage binge drinking. Delirium Noël is the sister seasonal winter ale. It pours dark amber, with aromas of caramel malt, fruit and spices. Upon tasting it, you’ll find flavors of baking spices, vanilla, apricot and the slight alcohol bitterness. Noël finishes sweet and spicy, and at 10% abv, you’ll only need one.
So why was it banned?
According to an article in The Bowdoin Orient, technically, it weren’t banned due to the pink elephant itself, but because the name referenced alcohol.
“Delirium Tremens and Delirium Nocturnum, the two most famous beers manufactured in Belgium by Huyghe Brewery, are classic examples of big things coming in weird packages.” the article states. “In fact, Delirium products were initially banned in the United States on the basis of their names. Delirium Tremens is actually the clinical term for “the DTs,” the violent sickness which alcoholics experience during withdrawal. When the beers were first imported into the States, a law was in place that prohibited alcoholic products thought to encourage binge drinking, and thus Delirium was snatched from stores nationwide because of its reference to alcoholism.”
St. Bernardus “Christmas Ale” – Quadruple
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale is a dark, seasonal beer, full of wintery character and flavors that’s brewed every year for the holiday season. It’s an intensely dark beer with a full, yet slightly fruity flavor, overflowing with the tastes of winter and zesty seasonal aromas. Anise notes are complemented by hints of caramel and fire-roasted chestnuts. The zest shows no signs of abating, pushing through to a magnificent finish of dried fruits and chocolate. Just like all St. Bernardus beers, this brew bears the imprint of the unique St. Bernardus yeast (dating back to 1946), that gives it its own special complexity.
Port Brewing “Santa’s Little Helper” – Imperial Stout
Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. This is one seriously naughty, but nice beer. Santa’s Little Helper, Port Brewing’s Imperial Stout, starts with an emphasis on dark cocoa and roasted coffee aromatics. The finish lends hints of sweet crystal malt, warming tones of alcohol and a touch of hops, making a perfect accompaniment to leftover fruit cake and sugar cookies.
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