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Wine has long worn the crown as the preferred drink to serve with Christmas lunch but one drinks expert is standing up for beer this year. Jane Peyton, Friends of Glass ambassador and the UK’s first Beer Sommelier of the Year (2014-2015) wants to bring beer out of the pub and onto the dining table.


Here are her recommendations for the best festive beers to bring comfort and joy, pairing them with canapés to Christmas pudding and everything else in between. With recent research from Friends of Glass2 highlighting the trend for more elegant beer glassware (no pints please) she gives the lowdown on perfect glasses to suit different types of beer to maximize their flavours and tasting notes.


APERITIF – beer is a brilliant choice to serve as a pre-dinner drink and a bitter aperitif will kick-start the digestive system. Gunnamatta IPA by Yeastie Boys 6.5% (tasting notes: the drinking equivalent of a stroll through a citrus grove with grapefruit and lemon from New Zealand hops, and bergamot orange from Earl Grey tea which is added during the brew). Another fantastic IPA is Jaipur by Thornbridge 5.9% (tasting notes: a burst of citrus – grapefruit and lemon jostling with tropical fruits and pine for a juicy bitter finish). Glassware to serve: Champagne flute


Rich, full-flavoured meat like duck needs a big beer. Aventinus by Schneider & Sohn 8.2% (tasting notes: this German weisse bock – dark wheat beer – is big in flavour and body where dried fruit, banana and caramel-meets-liquorice.   It will also match well with Christmas pudding). Glassware to serve: Weizen – a tall and slender glass with a flared mouth. Wheat beers typically have large pillowy head and the shape of the glass enhances the appearance of the beer.


Westmalle Dubbel by Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle 7% (tasting notes: rich dried fruit, banana and oak with a wine-like character. A full flavoured beer that enhances the rich flavour of the duck). Glassware to serve: Chalice – this beer is brewed by Trappist monks and should be treated with reverence! The glass has a wide mouth so complex aromas develop and it encourages people to sip their drink meaning that the beer hits the front of the tongue first where the sweetness of the malt in the beer will register.



Goose is full flavoured, darkish meat so a beer that has hefty, flavoursome characteristics will be a good match. London Porter by Fuller’s 5.4% (tasting notes: Porter is a dark style of beer with rich coffee and roasted flavours. It has a refreshing bitterness that cuts through any fattiness of the meat. It’s also fantastic with Christmas cake and Stilton cheese). Bede’s Chalice by Durham Brewery 9% (tasting notes: sweet malts meet orange and peach in a big, bold, fruity beer that holds its own with the big flavour of the meat).


Glassware for both beers: Chalice. This is a wide rimmed bowl on a stem. The design permits complex aromas to develop and it encourages people to sip their drink meaning that the beer hits the front of the tongue first where the sweetness of the malt in the beer will register – and drinking from a chalice is always like a ritual!


Be careful not to overpower the delicate flavour of the fish and choose lighter beers with good acidity to cut through the oiliness. Coolship by Elgood’s 6% (tasting notes: a sour style of English beer known in Belgium as Lambic. It has an invigorating acidity with a tangy lemon sourness that efficiently cuts through the oiliness of the fish without overwhelming its subtle flavours). Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont 6.5% (tasting notes: sour apples and lemon with a very dry palate – perfect for the texture of oily fish).


Glassware for both: Loire wine glass. This is a tall slim glass with a medium sized bowl and a narrow rim that enhances the freshness of the aromas and balances the fruit and acidity of the flavours in the beer.



Look for something fruity or sweeter to contrast with the saltiness of this meat. Duvel by Duvel Moortgat 8.5% (tasting notes: Belgian Strong Pale Ale with a dry, effervescent mouth feel and a fruity taste that contrasts with the saltiness of the cured ham). Broadside by Adnams 6.9% (tasting notes: big bold treacle, coffee, and sherry like with a sweet edge to contrast with the salty ham).


Glassware for both: Tulip. This glass has a stemmed foot and a bulbous bowl. The flared mouth retains a foamy head that is characteristic of Duvel. It also looks very elegant!



Turkey lacks flavour so the beer choice needs to have personality without overwhelming the meat. Turkey can also be rather dry in texture so a good, bold beer with juicy overtones. Tribute by St Austell 4.2% (tasting notes: an English Pale Ale with a well-balanced blend of sweet malted barley and juicy bitterness from hops that contribute a subtle citrus character. The scrumptious juiciness of this beer counters the dry texture of the meat). Samuel Adams Boston Lager by Boston Beer Company 4.9% (tasting notes: this is an amber lager style of beer. It has citrus and herbal notes with a caramel backbone. It is a crisp beer with a dry clean finish. The caramel malt character matches well with roast turkey because it caramelizes during cooking).


Glassware for both: Tumbler. This has gently sloping sides and a wide rim. It promotes a sip rather than a glug which means that the sweetness of the malt will immediately register on the tongue.



Brown Ale by Barrel and Sellers 5% (tasting notes: Brown ale has a bitter/sweet flavour where fruit, caramel and nuts meet a roasted character. Perfect for a dish containing roasted nuts). Ilkley Black by Ilkley Brewery 3.7% (tasting notes: a Mild style of beer that has a roasted malt, lightly smoky, licorice bitter palate that complements the savoury character of this dish).


Glassware for both: Snifter. This is arguably the most elegant shape of glass. It is sometimes called a balloon due to its bulbous bowl shape that narrows at the top and sits on a short-stemmed foot. Christmas dinner is a ritualistic meal so makes it even more special with an appropriate glass.