Undistributed beer of the week: Christmas Ale from Kilowatt Brewing


There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego’s beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week’s best undistributed beer is ...


Style: Winter Ale

ABV: 6.1%

Pair with: Stuffing, sweet potatoes, vanilla desserts ... think Christmas dinner for this one.

‘Tis the season for a holiday brew that holds its own. While there are many variations of Christmas-style beers to be had around town - be it a holiday stout, a Belgian, you name it - this one stands out from them all. We love the fresh spice on the nose, the kick of ginger to compliment the smooth taste of malty goodness and the beautiful copper color on this beer. We can see ourselves sipping this one on Christmas with loved ones, or maybe even a few weeks prior to the holidays to really get us in the spirit of the season.

The story

This delicious beer comes to us from Kilowatt Brewing’s COO Rachel Fischer who sat down to chat with us about this seasonal, close-to-home brew and why it’s something you need to get sippin’ on ASAP.

“The first year we brewed this was last year, which was our first Christmas with Kilowatt. Ninety-five percent of us are from the Midwest, a lot of us being from Ohio,” Fischer said. “The tradition in Ohio is that a lot of the Cleveland breweries will brew a copper ale of some sort with Christmas spices. It was really special, because we’d walk into a craft beer bar where you’d typically only find Budweiser or Bud Light. There weren’t a lot of craft beer bars when I was growing up.

“You’d expect to walk in around Christmas time and find at least three Christmas ales on. With Great Lakes, they kind of started the tradition, and the smaller breweries kind of popped up and it became a competition. A lot of media will judge the Christmas ales and the goal is to have the best. I have lived away from Ohio for over 10 years and we wanted to bring that tradition here. It’s good friendly competition.”

It certainly is nice to see a legit Christmas ale here in San Diego, ideal for enjoying in the oh-so-cold weather (63 degrees is freezing, right?). The brew team used an expected spice profile and ingredients, but threw in a few twists during the process.

“It’s a three-barrel batch and we used 18 pounds of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger,” Fischer said. “We added the ginger in the boil, which last year we did not. Last year we essentially dry-spiced - like dry-hopping but with spices - the beer. This year we actually added it in to the boil. We did a bit more spicing on the back end, as well.”

The beer itself is full of that Christmas-y flavor we want, yet remains balanced and isn’t too overwhelming in any one spice direction. The ginger taste is also pleasantly present within this beer, adding a nice kick to the honey-meets-cinnamon brew. We love the way the flavors play together in this winter ale.

The best part of this brew for Fischer? The fact that it brings transplants within San Diego together to enjoy a familiar, hometown ritual.

“I enjoy the camaraderie that this beer brings,” she said. “There are a lot of people from Ohio in San Diego and when we released it last year, being new and small, we had people who came in to try it because they were from the Midwest. They were like, ‘I heard you have the Christmas Ale’ you know. We stayed open on Christmas Eve, Steve (Kozyk) and I worked so that our employees could have that day with their families. We had a good amount of people stop in that first year and we probably filled about 20 Christmas Ale growlers.”

The love for Kilowatt’s diverse selection of brews is certainly growing locally as the brewery prepares to open up its second location in Ocean Beach. Fischer said that she is hoping the new location will launch with a soft opening sometime between Christmas and New Years.

This beer currently is available to try on tap at Kilowatt Brewing and will be available throughout the holidays.

Note: If you’re looking for another good Kilowatt brew to try, we recommend the Belgian Strong Ale, which is sold in bottles at the brewery. It was a close second to the Christmas Ale and is also a great beer to sip on during the winter season.

Kilowatt Brewing, 7576 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Kearny Mesa.