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10 Best Holiday Beer Buys of 2012

6. Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale
Style: Winter warmer

This was the only entry from last year's list that made it to the 2012 edition, despite Boston Beer's (SAM) best attempts to dislodge it.

Each holiday season, a scant two bottles of Old Fezziwig find their way into the Samuel Adams variety pack alongside Boston Lager, Winter Lager, Holiday Porter, Chocolate Bock and a new beer of Boston Beer's choosing. This year, that was a spicy near-witbier named White Christmas.

Nice try. Old Fezziwig is still just as popular as the jovial, party-loving boss from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and has been since its introduction 1995. Its balance of chocolate, caramel and toffee notes, ginger and cinnamon spices and just a bit of orange peel is still found only in the winter pack and -- without fail -- is usually the first beer in the pack to disappear completely from a holiday host's fridge. At 5.8% ABV, it's tough to blame guests for wanting more than one.

5. Southern Tier Krampus
Style: Imperial helles lager

Southern Tier doesn't typically play around with weak beers this time of year. Its Pumpking imperial pumpkin ale is one of fall's best offering, while its Blackwater series of coffee- and chocolate-flavored stouts and porters makes its way onto many winter beer wish lists.

Krampus is no exception. Named for the fanged, goat-horned bully that European tradition suggests is the evil sidekick of St. Nicholas and enforcer of "the list," Krampus is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for about a month. Rich, dark malts, aromatic hops and a potent 9% ABV make Krampus a complicated holiday brew that newcomers should approach cautiously. While St. Nick delivers presents to good boys and girls, Krampus punishes naughty children. Don't be on the bad side of that list. Drink this slowly and responsibly.

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