Winter warmers are another wildly popular seasonal amongst beer geeks. As the name implies, this seasonal is only brewed in the winter and all have a slightly higher ABV to help “keep you warm” during the holiday season.
What is a Winter Warmer?
For centuries now, beer with higher-than-usual amounts of alcohol has been brewed in the fall and winter months. Nobody is quite sure when the name “winter warmer” was applied to this style, but the name still rings true as this type of beer will definitely keep you warm on a chilly night.
The most notable feature of a winter warmer is the higher-than-average amount of alcohol that you will find within them. While there are no set guidelines of what ABV this style should have, you will generally find that they have an ABV of 5.25-8.0%. In some cases, you will find that this reaches up to 10%, but that is definitely not the norm for a winter beer.
Other than more alcohol, winter beers typically will have a large malty backbone with very little hoppy bitterness. Whatever hop flavor there is will be balanced, to not take away from the malty sweetness this style is known for. You will also notice that the flavor will be full and bold with a medium to heavy body. The color of a winter warmer will be darker, ranging from dark red to deep black.
Some brewers will toss in a few select spices to give their winter warmer a different kind of bite. While this isn’t necessary for this style, it is quite common nowadays. Winter beers from breweries in the United States are known to have an eclectic palate of spices, whereas those from England and other parts of the world are less likely to have these extra ingredients.