The Beer: Aventinus

With a list like this, it's hard to claim "saving the best for last." But Aventinus is a big German beer with an even bigger personality that holds up quite well at holiday time.

This bottle-fermented beauty pours to a deep, hazy brown. The nose is of raisins, dates, and cloves, with maybe just a hint of chocolate. The flavor is sweet, but not annoyingly so. It's nicely carbonated, has a smooth mouth-feel, and an almost dry yet buttery finish. And -- bonus -- Aventinus also plays nice with both entrees and desserts. Remember: This is a big beer and may fill you up quickly, so be sure to quaff carefully.

The Food

While Aventinus is a complex beer, the pairing process is a bit more straightforward. Roasted meats, including beef and pork, make the perfect culinary coupling with this beer, as does smoked ham. But don't stop there. Try it as an accompaniment with apple pie and ice cream. The clove, dark fruit, and buttery essences dance with vanilla from the ice cream and the flaky, buttery pie crust. Trust us on this one.

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