8. Yule Smith Winter
AleSmith Brewing, San Diego
AleSmith brewers Peter Zien and Tod Fitzsimmons could have just let their holiday beer offering be yet another bottle under the tree in beer-rich San Diego, but their Yule Smith has become a seasonal standout.
It's brewed under the same name in the summer, but as a Christmas-in-July Imperial IPA. For the winter, Ale Smith switches to a super malty, incredibly smooth Imperial Red Ale with a whole lot of hop aroma. There's a bit of hop bitterness, but not so much that it overpowers the style completely. This is a way easier sip than any 9.5% ABV beer should be, but those hops on the nose should provide fair warning about the warm winter's night ahead.