Holidays can be tough for a good beer lover.

So much of the fantastic offerings are serious, take no prisoner beers. Given the occasions seem to split among quiet, contemplative, romantic evenings at home; celebratory bar escapes with staff, professional types, and acquaintances; and afternoons/evenings at a friend’s houses executing conversations requiring serious start up efforts; beer choice can be extremely critical if not fraught with danger.

What I search for are the intriguing beers that you can enjoy for hours on end, like Anchor’s Christmas Ale. Every year I go buy several cases of the magnums to share with friends. At parties around this time of year early vintages of these bottles will show up at my book group meeting or other social situations. I have to say the 2006 seems to be drinking quite well, although throwing a bit of sediment.

What is it with Harpoon’s Winter Warmer? Anyone know? I usually try whatever is new on draft at any of my local watering holes and a few weeks back this beer showed up. Next thing I knew I was hooked, and looking down the bar, so were a few others. The presentation, a modified tulip glass with a stem base, really helps with the appreciation.

The gig is this; Winter Warmer is simply a wonderful beer. At 5.9% it’s not going to send you over the edge, but the caramel and pale malts provide enough body, some slight toasted sweetness to give you a satisfied mouthfeel. Finish off with a delicate balance of cinnamon and nutmeg, with some bittering hops for balance, and you’ve got a beautiful winter beer when more than one is required for an evening.

As I wrote, I could see the glasses up and down the bar. It also started showing up at holiday parties, making it easier for this beer loving guest to enjoy the canapés. The beer’s personality even holds up out of the bottle, not an easy feat. I did find it more intriguing slightly warmer, another great use for a pair of hands and a modern tulip glass.