Winter is typically a slow time for the beer industry. Over the years brewers here in the United States have begun falling back on the traditions of their European forbearers and started creating special seasonal brews to not only spur sales, but to show off their brewing skills. The beers that begin appearing on store shelves in November are a collection of specialty spiced beers, imperials, stouts, and winter warmers.
No holiday season would be complete without sipping one or several of these spectacular brews that will only be on the shelves for a short time. Some of my favorites are highlighted below. Try them or search out favorites of your own to create a holiday tradition. But, whatever you do, grab these brews while you can because after the first of the year they will be much harder to find.
Smooth and sweet, this IPA was created using four varieties of hops; Centennial and Target in the boil, then dry-hopped with Amarillo and Mosaic. It has a bite just like the winters in Colorado, but the addition of wheat to the mix rounds out the bitter edges and makes this a winter IPA worth seeking out.
Winter Solstice – Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Rich and malty, this brew features a smooth and creamy mouthfeel that rewards the drinker with flavors of toffee, spices and caramel. The hops character of this Winter Warmer may be low, but the toasty malts make this a brew full of cold weather goodness perfect for sipping with a hearty holiday meal.
Cold Mountain Winter Ale – Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, North Carolina
Cold Mountain is flavored with vanilla and hazelnut for a rich, full flavor redolent with sweet malts and seasonal spices. Boasting a creamy mouth feel, this dark ale is supremely sessionable because of its lower alcohol. Share a pint with your favorite partner while cuddled in front of a roaring fire in the backyard firepit.
This sweet and spicy dark ale is a favorite around my house. It contains a heavy dose of cinnamon and mace – a seasoning similar to nutmeg, but without nutmeg’s overpowering nature – for a satisfyingly feisty punch that is sure to warm your bones. For a twist on how to serve it, try drizzling the inside of the glass with honey before pouring then garnishing the full glass with a cinnamon stick.
Delirium Noel — Brouwerij Huyghe, Melle, Belgium
Belgians are known for their love of the holidays and beer to go along with the season. Delirium Noel exemplifies the Belgian holiday spirit with a high alcohol brew with aromas of honey, apples and gingerbread. Flavors like toffee, figs and holiday spices flood the senses in each sip of this exuberant holiday beer.
- 4 Winter Beers You Should Drink When The Temperature Drops (mademan.com)
- It’s the Most Wonderful Time for a Beer (tud53400.wordpress.com)
- Winter Beers: Our Top 5 Picks (williams-sonoma.com)