For many of us, beer is usually guzzled out of a red plastic cup on Saturday nights. Flat, tasteless and warm with the faint remnants of dirty pingpong balls. Well, no more! Beer is going upscale for the holidays. Grab a brew (or two) from the lists below to make the holidays merry and bright.

The Experts

  • Cleetus Friedman – Chef/Owner of City Provisions (1818 West Wilson Ave.)
  • Jill Sites – Co-owner/Ambassador of Everything of Greenbush Brewing
  • Nick Barron – Head brewer at Flossmoor Brewing (1035 Sterling Ave., Flossmoor IL)

Pairing with appetizers: Look for a light beer (that’s light in color, not calories, my friends) with a medium body, since a heavier beer will leave drinkers too full for dinner.

Over ale. Photo from Half Acre.

Over Ale. Photo from Half Acre.

  • Over Ale (Half Acre): a light ale that can carry you from salad all the way through supper. (Good in barbeque sauce, too!)
  • Krankshaft Kölch (Metropolitan Brewing): bubbly and lemony this beer can be sipped slowly along with a simple winter salad.
  • Robert the Bruce (Three Floyds) & Harvest Ale (Founders Brewing): intensely hoppy beers that can stand up to the flavors of blue or goat’s milk cheese.

Pairing with entrées: Whether drinking or cooking with these beers, their warming spices or full bodies can complement or contrast heartier winter dishes.

The Fistmas Ale. Photo from Revolution Brewing.

Fistmas Ale. Photo from Revolution Brewing.

  • Fistmas Ale (Revolution Brewing): your secret weapon for braising meats. Pour a bottle of this over a roast or a cut of pork, cover with tinfoil, and let the beer do the rest.
  • Apathy (Greenbush Brewing): An oatmeal stout with roasted coffee and toffee notes and thicker body that warms the soul. It goes well with sausage or sweet potatoes and rounds out a spicy dish.
5 Vulture. Photo from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria.

5 Vulture. Photo from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria.

  • 5 Vulture (5 Rabbit Cerveceria): Brewed with ancho chiles that provide a spicy finish to cut through heavy stews.

Pairing with dessert: As an after dinner drink or a dessert in itself, finish a meal with these heavy, darker beers.

Double Cream Stout. Photo from Bell's Brewery.

Double Cream Stout. Photo from Bell’s Brewery.

  • Double Cream Stout (Bell’s): dairy free but incredibly creamy, this stout is a perfect choice for a beer float.
  • Pullman Brown Ale (Flossmoor Station): brewed with molasses, the sweet, roasty quality of this beer acts as an alcoholic substitute to coffee with dessert.
  • Delusion (Greenbush Brewing): aged in whiskey barrels, this imperial stout hints at a fine glass of brandy or scotch at the end of a meal.