Season's greetings from your friendly beer industry. The beer industry isn't above a little holiday commercialization of its own, as taverns and liquor stores are offering drinkers an array of special brews commemorating the season with names like Winter Hook, Winter Welcome, Christmas Ale and Celebration Ale.
Marsha Wilson works for beer distributor Bon Vivant Libations in Indianapolis. She characterized the selection of seasonal beers as heavier and with more body than lighter-colored summer beers. She also said that the beers are often spiced and are generally sweeter because they contain more malt. She added that winter and holiday seasonals have higher alcohol contents as well, which warms up drinkers.
Wilson said people shouldn't let the dark color of the holiday beers discourage them from sampling.
"Many people are afraid to try seasonal beers because they're dark," Wilson said. "But many are sweeter in taste than summer beers. The color can be deceiving - many of the darks are very easy to drink."
According to campus liquor stores and pubs, selection and sales of seasonal beers have been pretty strong.
"We carry 14 seasonals," Rob Hook, a manager at Friendly Package Liquor store, said. "Our most popular seller is Sammy Smith's Winter Welcome."
Muncie resident and Ball State alumnus Zac Adkins occasionally drinks Winter Welcome.
"It's a pretty dynamite beer," Adkins said. "It's definitely my favorite of the seasonals."
Muncie liquors manager Chris Johnson said that its best sellers were Red Hook, Winter Hook and Sam Adams Winter Lager.
Scotty's Brewhouse also sells the Sam Adams variety along with two other drafts, Goose Island Christmas Ale and Red Hook Winter Hook as well as bottles of Sammy Smith Winter Welcome.
Scotty's bar manager Ryan Andrew said Sam Adams and Goose Island were the most popular seasonal beers at the bar, but all of their winter selections are consistent sellers.
"Our customers seem to really like the new beers that we carry with the changing season," Andrew said.
Scotty's regular Jeff Miller has tried both the Sam Adams and Goose Island seasonals.
"They are both good winter beers," Miller said. "They're dark so they have more body (than summer beers)."
Drinkers still have time to get out and try one of the holiday seasonal beers, according to Wilson who said that the beers hit stores in early November and will be sold until February. She recommended sampling one of the five Bell's varieties or the Sammy Smith.