Every year the Christmas decorations seem to come out well before December –&nbsp;so why should the beer be any different? Last week two South Coast breweries released their Christmas beers –&nbsp;and they’re quite different from each other. Wollongong’s Five Barrels’ offering is the more traditional festive beer of the two&nbsp;–&nbsp;and it’s actually called Christmas. Weighing in at 7 per cent, it’s full of the traditional Christmas spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg –&nbsp;layered over a thick malty base. It pours a deep copper-red colour and the spice flavours definitely take centre-stage. While those spice characters are certainly strong, the beer avoids the&nbsp;cliched “fruit cake” flavour of a lot of Christmas beers. It’s a beer that could stand up to the Christmas lunch –&nbsp;if you're doing a roast. Or if you want to have a beer while sitting on the lounge resting your belly after eating too much –&nbsp;but it might see you doze off while on that lounge because it does feel a bit stronger that 7 per cent. The other Christmas beer comes from Nowra’s HopDog. Called A Feast of Stevens, it’s a white stout flavoured with cacao nibs and coffee beans (which is almost identical to a beer the Illawarra Brewing Company have just made). In terms of alcohol, it’s a full percentage point higher than the Five Barrel beer but doesn't taste like it. What’s a white stout? Well, it’s a beer that tastes like a stout but doesn’t have that dark colour. Which makes for a beer that is tricky to get your head around; it looks like a hefeweizen in colour but then you get the strong coffee aromas of a dark beer. There's also a slightly fruity banana-like character that presumably comes from the cacao nibs. This one could be the beer you drink before you start Christmas lunch. Glen Humphries is the 2016 AIBA Australian Beer Writer of the Year.