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10 Best Holiday Beer Buys of 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Stop your grousing and start sipping: It's finally holiday beer season.

Little more than a month ago were were just as dismayed by the number of wintry holiday brews on taps and store shelves as most calendar-watching Americans. We realize brewers have to get these varieties out so there aren't a bunch of spicy ales and tree-laden labels lingering around packaged-goods stores in January. We're also aware beer shipments that exceed 15 million barrels during peak summer months slowly trickle to about 12 million barrels in December and slightly less during the Thanksgiving holiday season in November, according to the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

We can even see why breweries would want to capitalize on the thirst for holiday beer as much as possible. About 92% of American holiday consumers add food and beverages onto their holiday shopping in 2012, but spending on that holiday party cheer has risen from $86 per person in 2008 to nearly $110 this year. That's a difference of almost a full case per person.

Still, with the fresh hop and pumpkin ales not quite finished, it seems a bit much. We left just about all of those early entrants off of this year's holiday beer wish list, a shame considering it knocked out our top holiday beer of 2011. In fact, nine out of our Top 10 holiday beers have changed for this season, giving us all the more reason to get into the spirit and make with the list already:

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