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Where In Town: Cairo Wine & Liquor, 1618 17th St. NW

Price: $10.99/750 ml

Naughty and Iced

For beer drinkers, winter is like a three-month Christmas party. Eventually, the poinsettias all die, the gingerbread goes stale, and the eggnog turns funky, but somehow, the seasonal beers—one, for the record, is called Sucks Holiday Ale—stick around until spring. It’s easy to get sick of all the spice, and the noticeable booze level brings to mind something best used for cleaning sleighs. But, hark! Don’t throw the partridge out with the pear tree. There’s at least one Christmas-themed brew that still manages to sustain some holiday spirit—even after the last few pine needles are finally swept off the floor along with your eccentric uncle.

Words of Good Beer

Leave it to the jolly ol’ Belgians to come to our rescue yet again. Dark and fruity Gouden Carolus Noël is the elegant antidote to the usual seasonal offerings. Intensely aromatic, it smells like ripe fruit, or maybe a fruitcake, a fresh one packed with orange peel and dried plums and cherries. The taste is similar, with a major hit of black licorice, and unusually smooth. An added bonus: At least some of Cairo’s bottles are a year or two old, so they’ve had time for their alcoholic intensity to mellow. These ghosts of Christmas past should be allowed to visit anytime.