Dear Winter Ales: We’ve missed you!
As the seasonal chill sets in, the western world prepares for the onset of the holiday season. Every year, it’s marked by October’s influx of pumpkin ales and continues through November and December with winter ales and Christmas beers. As daylight savings hits us, avid beer drinkers can literally feel the pilsners and summer ales slipping from their fingers, replaced by the dark kiss of the winter warmer.
And because the season is so ubiquitous, there are dozens and dozens of spicy and malty beers to pick from, including some super strong imperials (yum!). To narrow down your selection, we thought we’d highlight a dozen (read: two six-packs worth) of some of our favorites you can look for when bringing suds to your next holiday party — or if you just want to relax by the fire or the television after a long, chilly day. Enjoy!
Fremont Brewing Bonfire and Winter Ales
Two for the price of one brewery! The Bonfire ale warms your belly with a dark mild hop recipe, while the Winter Ale (formerly known as Abominable Ale), a barrel-aged version of the brewery’s winter ale, is robust and rich, complimented with caramel and vanilla notes.
A deep, dark winter ale with joyous imprints of toffee, cocoa and dried fruit, this seasonal pleases craft beer nerds and their unsuspecting families alike. Perfect for setting out on a big dining table for your big dining family.
Sierra Nevada Celebration
This Chico, CA brewery does things a little different when it comes to the winter season. Their holiday beer, first brewed in 1981 (everything from the 80’s is good, right?), is a hop-forward concoction with citrus and pine aromas stemming from the bright west coast hops the brewery is famous for utilizing.
Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale and Winter Wheat
Two dark beers made very differently. Anchor’s Christmas ale is spicy with a lovely malt spine while the Winter Wheat is softer and fuzzier and made with five different wheats plucked from America to Germany. But while different, both are good for those 4pm sunsets.
One of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular holiday beers, this brewery (named after the Sumerian goddess of beer) produces a hopped winter beer that pairs well with duck and candied yams. You can practically hear the jingling bells of Santa’s ride shaking away as you sip.
Sam Adams White Christmas and Merry Maker
Two drastically different beers from the same historic brewery. Where the White Christmas is a nutmeg- and orange peel-infused brew, the Merry Maker is a big, stronger gingerbread stout. Which will you drink, hmmm?
21st Amendment Fireside Chat
Brewed like an English strong ale (meaning bold but edgeless), this beer is later infused with spice to tickle the eager tongue. It’s inspired, says the brewery, by President FDR’s radio addresses to the nation, which were strong-willed but warmly concocted for the public.
Green Flash Jolly Folly
The perfect winter ale for the drinker who just can’t let go of their adoration for hops, piney aromas and bite. Green Flash has made it so that you can have your cake (read: IPA essence) and eat it too (read: enjoy the dark, delicious seasonal).
Maui Coconut Porter
Nothing says the holidays quite like a beer brewed in Hawaii. For some, the holidays means traveling to warm weather destinations. For others it just means drinking beers from them. And Maui Brewing’s dark porter uses the ingredient the island may be most famous for: coconuts! So, replace the chestnuts roasting on an open fire with the gift from the thriving island’s palm trees.