As Earth orbits us all toward the shortest day of the year -- December 21 -- let's pause to contemplate a delightful wintertime by-product: holiday brews. Beer makers everywhere tend to bend their own little arcs of production to include seasonal offerings. That's why you often see "heavier" and "spicier" and "fruitier" brews in the winter months; "lighter" and "crisper" beers in the summer. The creative stars of the Inland Northwest Ale Trail are no exception. They boldly go where other beer makers have gone before...but they all do it in their own unique way. Here's a sampler for your Yuletide sipping pleasure:

Twelve String Brewing Company

This Spokane Valley brewery offers "12 Strings of Winter," an ale with "lingering sweetness and spice."



Budge Brothers Brewery - "13th Reindeer Egg Nog Stout"

No description at press time, other than the somewhat descriptive name of the brew made by the two Spokane bros.


No-Li Brewhouse

Spokane's No-Li brought out its "Winter Warmer" several weeks ago, but it's going away in early January. But rising like a star in the east, on Christmas Eve, No-Li brings out another seasonal brew: "Skyrail IPA."


Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company

This Post Falls brewery has its "St. Joseph" on special through the end of the year -- fitting, cuz, you know...Joseph, husband of Mary...father of TBJ. Also, Selkirk released "12" in November. It's a dark that comes in at 11.8% ABV, a statistic that immediately bespeaks something to beer geeks. To the rest of us it means: be careful, this stuff is strong!


Orlison Brewing Co.

The lager-makers in Airway Heights have a stout lager called "Underground." And just in time for the next monthly change of the Gregorian calendar, "Underground" is going into cans in January.


Hopped Up Brewing Company

This is kinda funny: "Destroy My Sweater" is the name of Hopped Up's holiday brew. Funny, in my mind, because of that odd tradition of wearing hideously ugly holiday sweaters. Anyhow, the brewer includes tips off spruce trees in the recipe. A Christmas tree in a glass courtesy of this Spokane Valley brewery.


Iron Goat Brewing Co.

The brewers with the iconic emblem have a cute little Russian imperial stout called “Goatnik” and a just-before-Christmas released “Cherry Chocolate Stout.”


As mentioned 293 words ago, this is just a sampler. Besides those wonderful local producers of magic, the Ale Trail is comprised of 16 great breweries, including Paradise Creek in Pullman, Republic Brewing in Republic (duh), River City in Spokane, Slate Creek in Coeur d’Alene, Wallace Brewing in Wallace (duh), Laughing Dog in Ponderay, Tricksters in Coeur d’Alene and Steam Plant in Spokane. If you know of other holiday brews, share your wisdom in the comments section. Until next time, hold on until our planet turns the corner toward apoapsis and stay warm here in the epicenter of Awesome Craft Brews, the Inland Northwest!