photograph by iStock/tomorca

The holidays are upon us, and no matter how you celebrate, two things are true: First, it’s the season to spend time with family and friends. Second, “time with family and friends” often means time spent drinking beer — hopefully, good beer. Here are six North Carolina beer recommendations to help make your festivities merry and bright.

Santa’s Secret • Carolina Brewery • Chapel Hill
Santa’s Secret is a winter warmer with notes of coriander, cinnamon, orange, and allspice. If you were on a pumpkin beer kick this fall, this is the perfect brew for transitioning to winter ales — it has a spice-forward flavor profile that’s balanced by several types of malt, resulting in a smooth, drinkable beer. A pint of this is all you need to ease yourself from pie mode to cookie mode.

460 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Christmas Bier Doppelbock • Weeping Radish Farm Brewery  • Grandy
Doppelbocks are strong, dark lagers originating in Munich — historically, the beers served as “liquid bread” for friars in times of fasting. The style is associated with high ABVs, creamy heads, and, at the darker end of the spectrum, chocolate or fruit notes from the roasted malt. Weeping Radish’s offering is true to the style — brewed with more than 50 percent Munich malt, the beer is a smooth, high-ABV ale that’s made to drink while kicking off your boots next to a wood-burning fireplace.

6810 Caratoke Highway, Grandy, NC 27939

Hoppy Holidays • NoDa Brewing • Charlotte
Many hop varieties are described as smelling like pine, but Hoppy Holidays IPA smells like a Christmas tree lot. While IPAs aren’t often associated with winter, the brewers at NoDa lean into making this IPA at full-force: In addition to six types of hops, the beer also contains spruce tips. If you’ve just finished lugging a tree off of your car and into your living room, and you want more of that arboreal aroma, you deserve this beer.

2921 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28206

Cold Mountain • Highland Brewing Company • Asheville
Like the Turbo-Man action figure from the film Jingle All the Way, Cold Mountain is hard to come by — and for good reason. The beer, a malty, lightly hopped ale with notes of vanilla and hazelnut, is one of the most sought-after beers produced in the state. Each year, fans line up in the meadow outside of the brewery for their chance to purchase a bottle. While the brewery is out of bottles for the 2017 season, it’s certainly worth a visit to the brewery to enjoy the beer on draft through Christmas or to your local bottle shop to check their inventory.

12 Old Charlotte Highway, Asheville, NC 28803

Silent Night • Mother Earth Brewing • Kinston
Silent Night, released each November, is a high-ABV imperial stout brewed with coffee — specially roasted by Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee — before being aged in bourbon barrels. The beer’s flavor profile is huge — rich malts are underscored by the aroma of fresh coffee and smooth molasses notes from the barrel-aging. Pass on that glass of eggnog and get your holiday bourbon fix from this beer instead.

311 North Herritage Street, Kinston, NC 28501

Ninjabread Man • Asheville Brewing Company • Asheville
Asheville Brewing Company is far from the first brewery to try to emulate the taste of a cookie in a beer, but it’s one of the most successful. The brewers work with Asheville Pizza & Brewing to formulate a syrup made with fresh vanilla beans, toasted cinnamon, raisins, molasses, and caramelized ginger. The concoction is added to a batch of Ninja, the brewery’s flagship, year-round porter. The result is a well-spiced, yet smooth brew that Santa would be honored to find at the bottom of the chimney.

77 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801

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Ethan Butler is a freelance web developer based in Durham and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. Butler helped create Our State’s BEER NC and continues to update the app with new information regularly.