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Best beer advent calendar: Have a very hoppy Christmas

From IPAs to ciders, brands like BrewDog and HonestBrew are here to make sure you have a very merry festive countdown

Richard Hood
Monday 19 October 2020 14:10
We were looking for  an exceptional selection of booze, as well as giving extra credit to fancy packaging and extra gifts
We were looking for  an exceptional selection of booze, as well as giving extra credit to fancy packaging and extra gifts

December is looming large, and for the beer lovers there are quite a few ale-filled advent calendars on the market to choose from to help count down (and celebrate) the end to this coronavirus-cursed year.  

You could conceivably use your calendar as an excuse to get your hands on a big stash of seasonal beer – some of the calendars we reviewed contain unique winter beers and Christmas specials.

But whether you intend to smash and grab the windows at will or fastidiously follow the numbers, a Christmas advent beer box to delve into during the dark winter days should help pave the way to a very Hoppy Christmas.

To be included on our Christmas list, we were looking for beer advent calendars that offer the imbiber an exceptional selection of boozes.

Extra special Christmas kudos was also bestowed upon the advents that added extra sparkle with fancy packaging and additional beery gifts.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Beer Hawk beery Christmas advent calendar

This year, Beer Hawk has really gone to tinsel town on its boozy advent, enlisting the help of artist Vincent Lellièvre to adorn the package with illustrations of the breweries that supplied the beers within. The box contains an eclectic mix, featuring one-offs and collaborations you can’t get in the shops. Included within the box are offerings from 28 breweries (which includes four collaboration brews) – highlights of which were an indulgent chocolate and almond pastry stout from Brouwerij Kees, and a candy cane pale ale from Omnipollo. At £85 it’s one of the priciest calendars on our list, but the beers inside are pretty special. You’ll also receive a tasting sheet to log your favourites and links to a dedicated mini-website full of beery info, along with a fridge magnet/bottle opener to serve as a handy reminder of your daily treat.

Beer 52 advent calendar

Behind the doors of Beer 52’s brilliantly trippy Christmas box (featuring a hop-bearded Santa and rictus, dancing elves) you’ll find 24 excellent brews, the likes of which you’ll be more than happy to liberate on a cold winter’s morning. There’s Gipsy Hill’s snowballer, a tangerine and satsuma pale; Virginia Beer Co’s spicy evil Santa stout; and Monyo’s snowman selfie red IPA for added Christmas cheer, along with some welcome boozy offerings from the likes of Tempest, Anspach & Hobday and Dark Revolution. Extra bonuses inside the box include a guaranteed win scratch card and a smart, limited edition tasting glass. Joyous Noel, indeed.

HonestBrew craft beer advent calendar

The secret Santa’s at HonestBrew are being especially secretive this year and have begged us not to ruin Christmas by revealing what lies behind its cardboard doors. You can spoil it yourself by visiting the website and clicking on a special link, but we wouldn’t advocate such grinch-like behaviour. Take it from us, HonestBrew’s Christmas countdown contains a fantastic selection of beers that span 13 different styles of brew – from black winter saisons to classic German lagers. For a real extravagant treat, you can upgrade to the ultimate advent that contains a top of the tree selection of limited edition beers. Extra Chrimbo kudos goes to the jolly box design – beer calendars by nature are big cumbersome things, but this one is a festive feast for the eyes. HonestBrew members can benefit by paying a little less (£59.90). 

The Snaffling Pig Co. pork and beer advent calendar

Snaffling Pig has enlisted the help of SEB Brewing (an offshoot of Sambrooks Brewery) to produce the branded beers that go into making its hog and hop advent. Work your way through this box and you’ll be treated to a selection of tasty brews interspersed with a mixture of salty pig flavoured snacks. You’ll be chomping on three flavours from the range: low and slow BBQ, marvellous maple and perfectly salted, and the focus on light coloured beers (pilsner, pale ale and lager) complement these porky snacks to perfection. It's a fun, high-calorie calendar that should get your digestive system match-fit and ready for the season of indulgence.

Best of British Beer Christmas beer advent box

Beer drinkers in the market for a Christmas liquid countdown should skate on over to Best of British. There’s plenty to love in this excellent advent – the contents of which can be tailored depending on your beery preference. Fans of classic and modern lagers will relish the contents of the lager advent, which contains some fantastic pilsners and helles styles, while the gluten-free option offers up some of the tastiest GF brews on the market. The mixed advent contains some stellar offerings from the likes of Cheddar Ales, Williams Bros and Magic Rock, with a few lesser-known breweries nestling inside to help widen your beery appreciation. 

Beerwulf beer advent calendar

Beerwulf has gone the extra mile with its Christmas advent calendar, embracing the current vogue for all things virtual by offering up a month's worth of daily digital beer activities to accompany 24 beers from 24 breweries. Beerwulf is another company that has hushed us to secrecy on the contents within, but rest assured it’s not gone and offloaded its old stock to make weight. Expect to see some banging boozes from Belgium, the Netherlands and the US – guaranteed to provide woahs with your ho ho hos.

The Dry Drinker alcohol free beer advent

Here’s a box you can open and consume at breakfast time and retain full possession of your faculties, just in case your boss decides to spring a surprise Zoom meeting. As the name suggests, the beers that reside inside are alcohol-free and showcase some of the best no/low offerings currently available. Highlights from this sober selection box include Ilkley Brewery’s flavoursome virgin Mary and roadrunner a rich, caffeine-packed coffee stout from Hamburg’s award-winning Kehrwieder Brewery. You'll also receive a branded tulip glass for sipping your angelic brews.

John Lewis & Partners beer advent

A festive booze box might be seen as a slight departure from the brand mostly associated with settees and electrical gadgets, but the beer buying elves at John Lewis & Partners have been knocking on the doors of some top tier breweries to help furnish this festive offering. While perhaps not offering up the most diverse range of beers, there are some big hitters lurking behind its cardboard doors, such as the excellent Harviestoun schiehallion and Thornbridge’s the Wednesday. There’s also a number of low alcohol options in there too.  

Virgin Wines beer calendar

Virgin Wines is not messing around here. Inside this burgeoning booze box (cunningly disguised as a giant present so you can hide it under the Christmas tree) you’ll discover some marquee names from the world of beer. It’s a globetrotting affair, from Belgian boozes such as the excellent saison dupont, San Francisco's anchor steam beer through to the juicy yuzu lager from the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. All in all, many reasons to be cheerful on your progression to the big day.

BrewDog craft beer advent calendar

Fans of BrewDog’s excellent range of beers will be pleased with this joyful, triumphant assembly, featuring beers taken from the brand’s 2020 brewing portfolio along with some old favourites. Look out for its floral hoppy Xmas IPA and the evergreen dead pony club. You’ll also be enjoying two beers unique to the calendar – Elvis hammer, a big, grapefruit IPA and snowball, a cream soda lager. Those with a keen eye on their Christmas budget will note that this box works out at just over £2 per can, a very good deal indeed.

The verdict: Beer advent calendars

Beer lovers looking for modern classics and unusual festive brews should step into Christmas with the fantastic Beer 52’s boozy advent. Booze connoisseurs with slightly bigger budgets will delight in the contents of BeerHawk’s calendar. It’ll make every day in advent seem like Christmas day. Figuratively speaking, of course.

If you want to give the gift of a very merry Christmas, turn to our round-up of the best gin advent calendars

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