Nick Carr on January 23, 2016 1 Comment Winter is hard upon us. The holidays are over and there’s not much to look forward to besides that next ski trip and the spring thaw. Well, buck up. There’s some great beer out there to get you through the cold weather, or unseasonably warm weather, depending on where you put your feet up. We have plenty of warming strong ales, along with a few nice IPA’s, a couple lager’s worthy of winter (whether warm or cold), and even a Flander’s red for those wanting something on the tart side. So, make a list, check it twice and go shopping. 1. Winter Ale from Alaskan Brewing Company Location: Juneau, AK A not-so-heavy winter warmer for those seeking sweet malts and hints of berry fruitiness without venturing down the more robust path most winter warmers tread. Expect buttered biscuit sweetness with hints of wood and clean citrus from the spruce tips. Brewer’s Description: “Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: English Olde Ale ABV: 6.4% IBU: 22 Hops: ? Malts: ? Food Pairing: Grilled Lamb, Stilton Cheese, Créme Brulee Suggested Glass: Mug or Pint Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Winter Seasonal Tasting Review: Read our review on Alaskan Winter Ale 2. Winter’s Welcome from Samuel Smith Brewing Company Location: Tadcaster, UK The snow may be deep, the weather cold, but give it its due. Give winter a properly warm welcome, with a glass of this English strong ale. Brought to you by Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, you can bet they did the style proud. So, put your feet up close to the fire and enjoy a history lesson. Brewer’s Description: “This seasonal beer is a limited edition brewed for the short days and long nights of winter. The full body resulting from fermentation in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ and the luxurious malt character, which will appeal to a broad range of drinkers, is balanced against whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops with nuances and complexities that should be contemplated before an open fire.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: English Strong Ale ABV: 6.0% IBU: ? Hops: Fuggles, Golding Malts: ? Food Pairing: Roast Goose, English Cheddar, Fresh pears and apples Suggested Glass: Mug or Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Winter Seasonal 3. Old Man from Southern Tier Brewing Company Location: Lakewood, NY As the snow begins to drift down out of that gray domed sky you can’t help but smile. The old man is coming. It’s time to sit, contemplate the simpler things and visit with him over the thick brewed warmth of a beer made especially for his coming. Brewer’s Description: “Our winter offering is here to quell your shivers and get you through the coldest of nights. A rich marriage of hops and barley to cast light upon the evening and melt your mind out of the snowdrifts. Old Man Winters earthy hue and thickness lace around the glass, inviting you to linger in its warmth and share the spirits of the season with your friends and family. A deceptively strong brew, its best to sit and ponder with this old man, sip by sip.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Old Ale ABV: 7.5% IBU: 57 Hops: ? Malts: ? Food Pairing: Winter Squash and Lamb stew, Double Gloucester, Crème Brulee Suggested Glass: Pint Glass, Snifter or Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Begins in November 4. Dobbelbock from Bayern Brewing Company Location: Missoula, MT Instead of a lawnmower lager, pick up this snow-blower lager. Looking for a lager that can warm you through a winter’s work? You’ve found it. Like Montana itself this brew is big, deep, and surprising. Brewer’s Description: “‘Doppel’ means double and this beer is double in every way. Bayern Doppelbock became an instant legend when Bayern introduced it in Missoula in December of 1987. Unlike its top-fermenting counterparts, this hearty German dark lager does not have the rough bite of a porter or a stout. Bayern Doppelbock is dark, smooth and has plenty of hops (Saaz & Hallertauer Perle) and malt. It has a starting gravity of 18 degrees Plato.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Dobbelbock ABV: 8.0% IBU: 23 Hops: Saaz, Hallertauer Perle Malts: ? Food Pairing: Roast Venison, Gouda, German Chocolate Cake Suggested Glass: Tulip, Snifter, Pilsner Serving Temperature: 48°F Availability: November – February 5. Winter Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company Location: Hampton, NH A warming blanket for your palate, this Dubbel brings a soft roundness of sweet malt, hints of chocolate, and memories of fruit with just enough hop bittering to shadow the sweet. Pull up your favorite chair, pour a glass, and get cozy. Brewer’s Description: “Smuttynose Winter Ale is a full-bodied, amber beer brewed with a special Trappist ale yeast. Stylistically reminiscent of a Belgian Abbey Double, it features fruity aromas and flavor, balanced by spicy Sterling hops. Warming, mellow & pleasantly complex, Smuttynose Winter Ale is your perfect cold weather companion.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Dubbel ABV: 7.5% IBU: 26 Hops: Bravo, Sterling Malts: North American 2-Row, Caramunich, Carastan, Special B, Carahell, Carafa II DH Food Pairing: Carbonade flamande, Washed Rind Cheeses, Milk Chocolate Suggested Glass: Tulip or Goblet Serving Temperature: 48°F Availability: Winter Seasonal 6. Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout from Jacob Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company Location: Chippewa Falls, WI Give yourself something to chew on this winter season. This beer is unapologetic when it comes to big, thick, and warming complexity. No matter how deep the snow gets you can bet Big Eddy’s dark warming presence will be a spark of good cheer to stoke your internal fires. Brewer’s Description: “Brewed with a blend of robust malts, distinctive hops, and notes of chocolate and toffee, our Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout is bold in character yet remarkably balanced.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Russian Imperial Stout ABV: 9.5% IBU: 75 Hops: Warrior, Summit, Glacier Malts: Classic Pale, Pale Ale, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel Food Pairing: Lamb chops w/ rosemary potatoes, Swiss Cheese, Dark Chocolate Suggested Glass: Snifter Serving Temperature: 48°F Availability: February – March Tasting Review: Read Our Review of Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout 7. Winter Ale from Summit Brewing Company Location: Saint Paul, MN It would only be appropriate to summit a local mountain (or hill) and raise a toast to the slate sky and driving snow before imbibing in this malty goodness. Enjoy this nutty, chocolaty, gently bitter warmer with your local snowstorm. Coming from the North Country you know it’ll hold its own. Brewer’s Description: “One taste and it’s easy to see why the Brits call this style Winter Warmer. Nutty, roasted malt flavor with hints of coffee, caramel, cocoa and a dash of hop spice. It’ll warm your cockles. Whatever those are.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: English Strong Ale ABV: 6.2% IBU: 40 Hops: Willamette, Fuggle, Tettnanger Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Black Patent, Crystal Food Pairing: Beef Stew, Smoked Cheese, Roasted Almond Cookies Suggested Glass: Mug, Tulip or Snifter Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Winter Seasonal 8. Brrrr from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company Location: Portland, OR This is a beer with the malty backbone to whether any winter weather and enough American hops to make any hophead, searching a malt-warming tangent to their regular fare, blush with excitement. Rich malt shot through with ripe fruit and hoppy citrus makes this a pleasantly awesome addition to the winter fridge. Brewer’s Description: “Warm Up with a Cold One. Or Two. Our winter red ale is the perfect treat, naughty or nice. The deep red body fills your glass and a citrusy hop aroma fills your nose. Then caramel and chocolate malts reward you with a perfectly balanced, malty sweet flavor and velvety finish.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: American Strong Ale ABV: 7.2% IBU: 50 Hops: Alchemy, Simcoe, Cascade Malts: Pale, Caramel 10L and 80L, Carapils, Dark Chocolate Food Pairing: Honey Glazed Ham, Sharp Cheddar, Sweet Potato Pie Suggested Glass: Mug or Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: October – December 9. Accumulation from New Belgium Brewing Company Location: Fort Collins, CO An IPA to match the white stuff pilling up outside your door, Accumulation lets you remember those summer days of drinking IPA’s in the sun, while appreciating -at least in color- these cooler months. Stock enough cases of this one to light your winter days with the soft touch of citrus and tropical fruit. Brewer’s Description: “Brewing a white IPA was not only a way to salute the white beauty falling from the sky, but a direct revolt to the longstanding tradition of brewing dark beers for winter. At least that’s what our rebellious brewer Grady Hull likes to claim as he shovels in plenty of new hop varietals and a bit of wheat for a smooth mouthfeel. Stack up a few cases of Accumulation White IPA to keep your long nights glowing blizzard white.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: White IPA ABV: 6.2% IBU: 55 Hops: Nugget, Centennial, Mosaic, Amarillo Malts: Pale, Wheat Food Pairing: Lime Cilantro Chicken Tacos, Sharp Vermont Cheddar, Avocado Ice Cream Suggested Glass: IPA Glass or Tulip Serving Temperature: 45-55°F Availability: Winter Seasonal Tasting Review: Read our tasting review for Accumulation IPA 10. Caractére Rouge from Brouwerij Rodenbach Location: Roeselare, Belgium If you find it grab it… and then send it to me. This is a rarely seen gem to be sought through the cold months, and much cherished when found. It dances with the likes of raspberries and cherries, souring but not over powering, it drinks light and finishes slightly dry. Bring this to your snobby wine connoisseur friend and watch the magic. Brewer’s Description: “This exclusive beer is created by adding an extra six months’ fermenting maceration with cherries, raspberries and cranberries to beer that has already undergone two years’ maturation in oak casks. Rouge is vinous with a very complex, fruity nose of raspberry and cherry combined with notes of wood and caramel. The undertone consists of an aroma of violets, leather and a hint of tobacco. The taste is rather sour but exceptionally pure. With its long, clean aftertaste and its unique combination of delicacy and strength, RODENBACH Caractère Rouge is reminiscent of a crisp Burgundy wine.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Flanders Red Ale ABV: 7.0% IBU: ? Hops: ? Malts: ? Food Pairing: Beef Adobo, Fontina, Fresh Mixed Berries Suggested Glass: Tulip, Snifter or Large Wine Glass Serving Temperature: 45-48°F Availability: Rotating 11. Whiplash White from Sweetwater Brewing Company Location: Atlanta, GA It seems appropriate that the second white IPA would come from the south. They may not get a lot of snow down that way, but that doesn’t mean they can’t through their own hat into the winter mix… and their winter seasonal is a perfect match for any warmer winter day. Brewer’s Description: “What happens when a 500 year old Belgian style ale gets rear-ended by a truckload of pompous American hops? It equals one heck of an ambulance chaser of a beer. This is an American style Belgian IPA, with a subtle phenolic flavor in combination with citrusy/piney hops, well balanced at 6.2% and 55 IBUs, with a tart, dry finish.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: White IPA ABV: 6.3% IBU: 55 Hops: Bravo, Ahtanum, Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe Malts: 2-Row, Wheat, Flaked Oats Food Pairing: Steak Salad, Sharp Vermont Cheddar, Mexican Cheesecake w/ Oranges Suggested Glass: Tulip Serving Temperature: 45-50°F Availability: December – February 12. Insulated Dark Lager from Brooklyn Brewing Company Location: Brooklyn, NY New to the Brooklyn line-up and making its bed in the easy drinking, but different room, comes Insulated dark lager. Like a light jacket with a secret warmth, this deep brown lager spins a creamy story with a main plot of mild but steady bitterness, and exciting subplots of coffee and light chocolate. Brewer’s Description: “Brooklyn Insulated Dark Lager is your protection against biting wind and soggy weather. German Munich, roasted Carafa, and Pilsner malts create a nimble, racy body, while a helping of American black barley adds just a hint of roast coffee. A light dry hopping of American and German hops pitter-patters across the nose and dives into the dry, warming finish. Try it with dark breads, hearty meats, and sturdy cheddars. If you still feel the chill, just add another layer and enjoy your insulation.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Schwarzbier ABV: 5.6% IBU: 55 Hops: Perle, Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Amarillo, Centennial Malts: German Munich, Carafa, Pilsner, American Black Barley Food Pairing: Grilled Quail, Medium Cheddar, Fruit Tart Suggested Glass: Flute, Tulip or Pilsner Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: November – March 13. Bonfire Rye from Sebago Brewing Company Location: Gorham, ME Need a change to your winter lineup? Add some rye. I think Sebago has the right idea here; winterize the standard IPA with some spicy rye creating a warmer drinking impression. Expect spicy rye breadiness, some malty sweetness, and a kick of citrus and pine from the hops. Brewer’s Description: “The combination of malts complement the generous amount of late-addition American hops, creating a perfect balance between the earthiness of the rye and the resinous hoppy aroma. A Bonfire makes any night better. We’ve done the research. Trust us, we’re from Maine.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Rye IPA ABV: 5.7% IBU: 67 Hops: Simcoe, Columbus, Citra, Chinook Malts: 2-Row, English Crystal & Pale, German Rye, Franco-Belge Coffee Kiln, Thomas Fawcett, Dark. Medium Crystal Food Pairing: Korean Beef Bowl, Cotswold Cheese, Spiced Pumpkin Pie Suggested Glass: Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Rotating 14. Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company Location: Fort Worth, TX Mention bourbon and you can’t help but think warm. Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer may be a mouthful, but you can bet that the beer is as big as the name. Expect rich sweet notes of chocolate, dried fruit, vanilla, and leather. A definite friend for the coldest night. Brewer’s Description: “We take American oak barrels and refill them with our Winter Warmer English-Style Dark Ale. We then barrel age this majestic ale for 12 weeks. The result is balanced, yet bold blend of dark malts and English hops with a sweet, smooth vanilla and oak finish.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: English Dark Ale ABV: 9.0% IBU: 44 Hops: Warrior, East Kent Golding Malts: Pale, Wheat, Carahell, Chocolate, Caramunich III, Light Crystal Food Pairing: Slow Roasted Pork, Brie, Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Suggested Glass: Snifter Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: December Release 15. Our Finest Regards from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Location: Summerville, MA You need layers in winter; layers of clothing, layers of blankets, possibly layers of snow (depending on your feelings), and layers of complexity. Nothing typifies winter and layering complexity like the barleywine. So, as you snuggle within your layers of clothes and blankets, watching the snow heap layer upon layer outside your window, sip of this warming complexity… and smile. Brewer’s Description: “Expect an aroma of juicy sultanas, wet wood, green apple, malted milk balls, marzipan and alcohol deliciousness. It’s got a medium body and is a little more spritsy than we’re sure the Brits would like. Serve over 50° fahrenheit in a stemmed glass. Very suitable to drink this year or next, or even the winter after that!” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: English Barleywine ABV: 11.0% IBU: ? Hops: ? Malts: Thomas Fawcett & Sons, Yorkshire Food Pairing: Beef and Vegetable Stew, Limburger Cheese, Pecan Pie Suggested Glass: Snifter or Large Wine Glass Serving Temperature: 55-64°F Availability: Winter 16. Serpent’s Stout from Lost Abbey Brewing Company Location: San Marcos, CA You’re staring at that last thick slice of triple layer chocolate cake aren’t you? Wondering if you should indulge; well first, if you’re going to indulge go all out. No one’s going to begrudge you the right libational (I know, a new word) pairing. Serpent’s stout will turn an indulgent stumble into a sinfully creamy delicious fall. Brewer’s Description: “Pours dark and thick, with a creamy mocha-colored head and aromas of roasted malts, dark chocolate and french roast coffee. The mouthfeel is full, smooth and round on the tongue. The taste is rich with deep roasted malts, cocoa, coffee and a touch of vanilla balanced perfectly against the alcohol to create an excellent winter warmer.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: American Imperial Stout ABV: 11.0% IBU: ? Hops: ? Malts: ? Food Pairing: Steamed Oysters, Aged Cheddar, Coffee Cake Suggested Glass: Snifter Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Winter 17. Java The Hop from Fort George Brewery Location: Astoria, OR This one’s for those adventurous souls out their searching for something… well, strange. This is the unlikely marriage of a hop named Simcoe to a burly dark coffee bean named Gichuna. A match made in heaven? Maybe. But if nothing else it’ll be an experience. Brewer’s Description: “Mornings are for coffee. Evenings are for beer. Java the Hop is timeless. Don’t let that glowing orange hue fool you. As you raise this pint to the nose there is absolutely no doubt what you are getting – a coffee IPA. Packed with the flavor of Coava Coffee Roaster’s Gichuna, and a taste of chocolate, Java the Hop satisfies to the finish.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: American IPA ABV: 6.5% IBU: ? Hops: Simcoe Malts: ? Food Pairing: Chicken Wings, Coffee Rubbed Cheddar, Coffee Bundt Cake Suggested Glass: Tulip Serving Temperature: 45-50°F Availability: Winter 18. Fort from Dogfish Head Brewing Company Location: Milton, DE If you’re not getting enough fruit in your diet through these long winter months this one’s for you. You can get your fruit fill right off, or at 17% ABV, stash it away somewhere for a year or two, until that “snow storm of the century,” and you really do have to fort up for a spell. Either way, the raspberry goodness will run thick and heavy creating a one-of-a-kind experience. Brewer’s Description: “An ale brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberry juice. Fort has a Belgian-style base, then we follow a similar fermentation process to the one we use on beers like 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Fruit Beer ABV: 16-17% IBU: 49 Hops: ? Malts: ? Food Pairing: Pan Fried Duck Breast, Emmental Cheese, Chocolate Truffles Suggested Glass: Snifter or Flute Serving Temperature: 50°F Availability: Limited 19. Adobe Igloo from Santa Fe Brewing Company Location: Santa Fe, NM A winter warmer done New Mexican style. Arm yourself with an Adobe Igloo to ward off those cold high-desert nights. Expect a palate pleasing malty sweetness with just the mildest hints of chocolate and spice. Mellow but different, just like the Land of Enchantment. Brewer’s Description: “Adobe Igloo is our New Mexican answer to the classic Winter Warmer: dark red, full bodied, and malty. Traditionally balanced with extra hops or a Wintery spice blend, we instead drew on our culinary heritage and focused on cacao nibs and red chile flakes. Offering chile flavor without heat and dusty raw cocoa rather than sweet chocolate, Adobe Igloo’s intriguing complexity will keep you coming back, sip after warming sip.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Winter Warmer ABV: 6.0% IBU: 18 Hops: Bravo Malts: Two row pale, Munich, Light and Dark Crystal, Midnight Wheat Food Pairing: Tamales, Aged Gouda, Cinnamon Churros Suggested Glass: Mug or Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: Winter 20. Grand Cru Winter Reserve from Flying Fish Brewing Company Location: Somerdale, NJ Go Belgian this winter with this fantastic offering from Flying Fish. Spicy without being spiced and fruity without the use of fruits; Belgian yeast is a bit of a magician if you ask me. Expect orange and clove painted over a background of a soft grainy body with alcohol warmth and ever distinguishable Belgian yeast character. Brewer’s Description: “The Grand Cru is fermented at a higher temperature than our other beers adding an undercurrent of fruitiness and clove (although there is no fruit or spice in the beer). Very lightly filtered, the Grand Cru exhibits complex mouthfeel, strong malt flavors, a spicy hop presence and a soothing alcohol warmth, followed by a clean, dry finish. It is excellent with food as well as served by itself.” Read more from the brewer. Characteristics & Tasting Expectations: Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale ABV: 6.9% IBU: 10 Hops: Styrian Golding, Columbus Malts: 2-row Pale, Cara-8, White Wheat, Demerera Sugar, Acidualted Food Pairing: Smoked Goose, Triple Creme Cheese, Baklava Suggested Glass: Tulip Serving Temperature: 50-55°F Availability: November – February I’ve tried to make this list as diverse as possible, not just in styles, but also between known and lesser known beers. But, winter seasonals are huge and I’ve no doubt missed someone’s favorite, so drop a comment and let me know what’s warming you up this winter. Stay warm and safe.