Craft beer is on the rise at an incredible 20 percent annually. Brewers are now looking for new ways to stand apart from the rest. The recent crop of “Holiday”While beer might seem to be a common sight in the aisle, it has seen a staggering 200 percent growth over the past four years.

Holiday beer’s popularity has been fueled by a deep love for the first holiday ales that our ancestors enjoyed. What makes a holiday beer? It’s generally a beer with a higher alcohol content that is intended for winter and late autumn.

As far back as 650 AD, Viking brewers used hops as a preservative. Instead, they often used mixtures of herbs, spices and seeds as well as tree bark to stabilize their brews. These proto-beers were strong and malty, and were most commonly enjoyed during the Viking holiday of July — or Yule.

Another piece to the puzzle is a tradition that was started in fifth century Britain during festival season, when people were allowed to share bowls of ale around the tables. Centuries later Yule cake slices were placed into the bottom of the bowls. The ale was then poured over the Yule cake, seasoning it with seasonal spices.

Holiday beers were popular on this side of Atlantic. Stella Artois, a Christmas beer, was introduced in 1926. “star”) and beers creating packaging that reflected the season, such as Miller Brewing Co.’s 1930s “Christmas Special Beer,”The room is complete with a Norman Rockwell-esque painting depicting a family around a fire.

Incorporating brewers was a popular trend in the 1980s. “warming”Brewers are increasingly incorporating spices into their beers and, more recently, they have turned to darker, more robust beer styles — stouts, porters, etc. — that are loaded with flavors that invoke thoughts of being inside in front of a warm fire.

These are today’s holiday beers. Although heavier beers are still the best, there is a new addition to the holiday beer lineup: Traveler Beer Company’s Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy. Shandys are similar to holiday beers. They were created in Europe by brewers who mixed ale with citrus for low alcohol refreshment. Jolly, a holiday beer traditionally considered warm-weather, uses seasonal spices and fruits such as orange, pomegranate and pomegranate to make it warming and seasonable.

You can enjoy a beer alongside your holiday dinner, regardless of whether it is a winter warmer oder holiday shandy. It’s what our Viking ancestors would like.