Forget about milk in Flanders. In much of Belgium, children leave a beer on Christmas Eve for Santa, to help him with his hard work.
How about a beer in honor of Mrs. Claus? You can get it from Norway’s Haand Bryggeriet, which makes a raisin-flavored holiday ale called Nissemor. That’s Norwegian for Mother Christmas.
In the second half of the first millennium, it wasn’t Christmas that Christians celebrated so widely, but the Epiphany, the date that marks the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. With a nod toward that festival, Belgium’s Alvinne brewery produces a trio of ales, Gaspar, Balthazar and Melchior, named for the three wise men.
In Finland, children drink Jouluolut, a sweet, low-alcohol Christmas beer made with powdered rye malt, flour, sugar and no hops.
Next time you hear the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas,” raise a toast with Pilsner Urquell. Wenceslas was the duke of Bohemia in the 10th century, an important period when the region’s hops industry was established.