What to get the beer aficionado or wanna-be on your Christmas list, besides a spare liver?

As I have for several years, instead of Santa I turn to Chris Black, proprietor of Falling Rock Tap House in LoDo, dispenser of fine ales and lagers since 1997, to gather holiday beers. He knows. Oh, he knows.

This year, we decided to put the six-packs in three categories: newbies, who think they might want to get away from watered-down malt and hops to "real" beers; hearty drinkers, those suds veterans who know what they like and lots of it, and the adventurous who think outside the borders of the nation's greatest craft-beer producer.

All these beers are packaged and available in most area retail outlets. Warning label: Most are high in alcohol (6 percent and above).

For newbies

Snow Day, New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, born in a blizzard in 2003, it's a hoppy, chocolaty winter hearty.

Isolation Ale, Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, a traditional winter ale — but no spices. "Leads you down the really nice path," crooned Black.

Winter Warlock, Bristol Brewing, Colorado Springs, An oatmeal stout Black believes also should be listed in the "hearty" catalog; it's that good. "We sell the crap out of it."

Neversummer Ale, Boulder Brewing, an assertively hoppy winter brew that will certainly stretch a newcomer's palate.

Christmas Ale, Upslope Brewing, Boulder, a spicy Belgian-style dubbel in 16-ounce red cans as a four-pack.

Cocoa Porter, Tommyknocker Brewing, Idaho Springs, a winter-warmer made with light chocolate and honey.

For hearty drinkers

Old Jubilation Ale, Avery Brewing, Boulder, a long-time favorite with a nutty nose and malty overtones

Hibernation Ale, Great Divide, Denver, this one and Old Jubilation have become "musts" for the season.

Eclipse IPA, Crabtree Brewing, Greeley, a hefty 7.8 percent alcohol (by volume), it's in four-packs of cans. Dubbed a "black IPA."

Big Shot, Fort Collins Brewery, a winter seasonal brown ale, complete with a cute little snowman on the label.

Christmas Ale, Breckenridge Brewery, Breckenridge and Denver, another large (7 percent) winter classic with caramel and chocolate flavors.

Winter Warlock (See newbie list).

For adventurous imbibers

Celebration Ale, Sierra Nevada, Chico, Calif., an annual treat from Northern California. Robust and warming.

Wreck the Halls, Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, Ore., a bright, citrusy brew. Dry hopped at 6.5 percent.

St. Bernardus, Brouwerj St. Bernard, Belgium, Trappist brown ale with 10 percent alcohol.

Santa's Little Helper, Port Brewing, San Diego, aka "Santa's Little Hangover," this dark, dark stout boasts 10.5 percent alcohol (ABV).

Saison du Pont, Belgium, brewed since 1844, this is what fanatics of Belgian beers live for. Re-fermented in the bottle.

Our Seasonal Ale, Anchor Steam, a San Francisco treat issued annually with a new mix of spices every time.

Beer notes

They're back: The remodel at Bull & Bush Brewery, 4700 Cherry Creek Drive South, is complete, and the kitchen reopened. The one-month project took four months. In the meantime, diners were treated to Goldfish crackers — and the brewer's award-winning beers. A new building out back will house B&B's bottling line. ... Go out blowout: Yak & Yeti pub in Arvada debuts its "Up in Smoke" rauchbier at 4 p.m. Dec. 21, the day the world ends (it's that Mayan calendar thing). ... Del Norte Brewing, which specialized in Mexican-style beers, has closed. ... In January, watch area retailers for cans of Ryeteous Rye IPA and 5:00 Afternoon Ale from Renegade Brewing. ... Spirit Hound Distillers has opened just east of Lyons, bringing to 30 the number of distillers in the state. ... Quotable: "Let's face it, Americans are fat all year round, but the holidays are when we really hit our stride. And you can bet the food we eat will be just as unhealthy as the families we're forced to visit." — Lewis Black

E-mail Dick Kreck at rakreck@yahoo.com. Send mail to him c/o The Denver Post, 101 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 600, Denver, CO 80202.