The test team staff at Bicycling are big fans of cyclocross racing, thus the week between the Christmas and New Year holidays holds a special place in our hearts. In cyclocross-crazed Belgium, this time of the year is known as Kerstperiode; with prestigious and high-profile professional cyclocross races happening almost every day. Kerstperiode this year is extra special as World Champion and multi-discipline star Mathieu van der Poel makes his return to cyclocross racing.

For cycling fans here in America, Kerstperiode means waking up early to watch livestreams of the daily races—or catching them later in the day on the trainer or after dinner. Also for Americans, don't miss current US National Champion Clara Honsinger in the women's races.

In addition to cyclocross, cyclists also know Belgium as the country that produces Wout van Aert some of the world's highest ranked and most legendary beers. As a little holiday gift to the beer lovers, we asked cycling coach, former professional cyclocross racer, and Belgian beer fan Adam Myerson for his picks of best beers for the holidays and Kerstperiode.

Is Adam's list on the podium or is he getting lapped? Let us know your favorites for Christmas and winter beers in the comments.

Like many American cycling fans, my knowledge of European history, geography, and culture comes from being a romantic and passionate fan of the sport. I studied French in high school, made a pilgrimage to Switzerland for a winter of cyclocross, spent a summer racing criteriums around Amsterdam, and eventually served four years on the UCI Cyclocross Commission where I frequently found myself in Belgium for meetings, which I would then turn into shorts racing trips.

Beer was part of that learning experience for me; an easy and organic way to learn about places through the beer brewed there. There’s a thrill in having a Westmalle in Westmalle, or even better, a Westvleteren in Vleteren at In De Vrede (the café associated with the abbey which brews the fabled Trappist beer), a thing I still have yet to do!

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A younger Adam enjoying a Westmalle during a trip to Belgium
Adam Myerson

The more I learned about Belgian beer, the more I learned there was to learn, and down the rabbit hole I went. I’m still no expert, just a well-educated enthusiast. Eventually I reached the point where I felt like I had tasted everything. Triples and quads became my preference, and St. Bernadus my favorite brewery. Narrowing it further, I became obsessed with versions of these beers that only came out at the holidays, brewed with spices and flavors like coriander, anise, clove, pepper, cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, and the like. Imagine a big, roasted, high-alcohol Christmas cookie in liquid form. These are for sipping, and in small portions.

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A section of Christmas beers from a past sampling party
Adam Myerson

For the past decade or so, I would spend the year collecting these beers from stores around the country as I traveled for bike races, and host a Christmas Beer party at my home when the ‘cross season was over. Everyone would get a few ounces of each beer, and we’d sample as many as 20 different bottles.

The pandemic has paused my party for the past two years, and the closing of famed importer Shelton Brothers has made even finding these beers harder than in years past. But if you’d like the perfect beverage to go with the live feed of the Kerstperiode cyclocross races in Belgium, here’s my quintessential list, in no particular order:

Scaldis Noël, Brasserie Dubuisson Frères

    Scaldis Noel
    Brasserie Dubuisson Frères

    Unequivocally my favorite Christmas beer, a Belgian strong ale that’s not overdone on the spices, but at 12%, really tastes like alcohol, which some people find overpowering.

    Fantôme Noël, Brasserie Fantôme

      Brasserie Fantome Noel Special Saison
      Brasserie Fantôme

      Slightly unusual in this list, as it’s a farmhouse ale or saison, which means it’s brewed with a wild Brettanomyces that yields a sour or funky flavor that the spices build on top of.

      N’ice Chouffe, Brasserie d’Achouffe

        Brasserie d’Achouffe, N’ice Chouffe
        Brasserie d’Achouffe

        A strong dark ale brewed with spices, the N’ice Chouffe pays homage to the origins of the Belgian Christmas beer by dressing its iconic gnome in a Scottish kilt and spats on the label.

        St. Bernardus Christmas, Brouwerij St. Bernardus

          St Bernardus Christmas
          Brouwerij St. Bernardus

          A Belgian quad brewed with spices, quads are typically the darkest, most malty, sweetest, and most alcoholic of the abbey style ales. If you can’t get your hands on a Westvleteren, St, Bernardus is on that level, and more widely available.

          Delirium Noël, Brouwerij Huyghe

            Delirium Noel
            Brouwerij Huyghe

            Of all the Christmas ales, Delirium Noël is consistently the most common and readily available. It’s a strong dark ale, and probably most famous for its pink elephant, in this case, wearing a Santa hat and skiing or ice skating, depending on the year.

            Père Noël, Brouwerij Brasserie De Ranke

              De Ranke Pere Noel
              De Ranke

              De Ranke’s Christmas beer stands out because it’s not a quad or dark ale, but a strong pale ale. It’s lighter in color, hoppier, more bitter than sweet, and spiced with licorice.

              Corsendonk Christmas Ale, Brouwerij Corsendonk

              Corsendonk Christmas Ale
              Brouwerij Corsendonk

              A strong dark Belgian Ale brewed with spices, this one is a classic, standard example of the style.

              Gouden Carolus Noël, Brouwerij Het Anker

                Gouden Carolus Noël
                Brouwerij Het Anker

                Another iconic example of the style, the Gouden Carolus turns it up a little on the spices with six different adjuncts. If you like those Christmas cookie flavors, this one's for you.

                Cuvée De Noel, Brasserie St. Feuillien

                  St Feuillien Cuvee de Noel 9°-1/3L

                  Again, a classic Belgian strong dark ale brewed with spices, from Wallonia close to the French border. The St. Feuillien is often hard to find, but with recent expansion to their 150-year-old brewery, your chances may be increasing.

                  Stille Nacht, Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers

                    De Dolle Stille Nacht
                    Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers

                    The Silent Night from De Dolle is a spiced Belgian strong pale ale that might sneak up on you at 12%. You’ll taste the alcohol, along with sweet, light fruit and aromatic spice.

                    Almost every Belgian brewery that makes abbey-style ales makes a Christmas beer, too. It’s almost impossible to limit the list to just ten, but these will help get you started and know what to look for. Happy Holidays!