‘Tis the season…to stock up on winter beers! The winter season is adored for chilly weather and holiday cheer. However, if you’re a hops, barley, and malt fanatic like I am, you’ve been waiting for winter’s special array of seasonal beers all year long. There are many great options for icy, refreshing bottles of holiday cheer, and it is impossible to cover them all. We’ve chosen our top twelve winter beers to present to you as the twelve days of winter beer. The season is upon us, so let’s get cheery and beer-y.
Number Twelve: Anderson Valley Winter Solstice. As Jack Frost nips at our nose, the Anderson Valley Brewing Company of Northern California releases its beautifully-concocted winter ale. Winter Solstice is brewed for every winter-lover. It bears a deep amber color, as well as flavors of cinnamon, maple, dark malt, and even a bit of cherry tartness. This is the perfect brew to start off your indulgence in seasonal beers.
Number Eleven: 21st Amendment Fireside Chat. If the cold can’t keep you away from your fire pit this year, 21st Amendment Brewing has developed the perfect beer for you! As the name implies, this season is perfect for sitting around a fire with loved ones for a nice chat. Along with this beer, your night is sure to be spiced up. This English-style dark ale isn’t your average winter beer; rather than sweet and caramelized, the Fireside Chat is spiced with festivity (and spice). When we say spiced, we mean spiced. It sure knocks egg nog out of the park!
Number Ten: Funky Buddha Last Snow. Florida may not be the ideal location to celebrate winter, although it is the perfect location to enjoy January on a sunny, eighty-degree beach. Being a Florida native, when winter beach days come along, I get most excited for the “Last Snow” of the season from Funky Buddha Brewery. Yes, it’s a beer! This special release porter from Funky Buddha is the tropical star of the season, featuring strong notes of coffee and coconut nestled in a creamy, winter treat.
Number Nine: The Great Northern Snow Ghost. During this frigid season, The Great Northern Brewing Company of Montana releases their special Snow Ghost into the crisp air. The Snow Ghost offers classic and mild flavors of coffee and chocolate, living up to everything a winter beer should bear. It has a low bitterness with a heavily roasted fragrance and is sure to warm your bellies this season.
Number Eight: Midnight Sun CoHoHo! For those of you who enjoy a more bitter variety of beer, Midnight Sun Brewing Company has created a seasonal beer fit to satisfy all you “hopheads” out there. The “CoHoHo!” imperial IPA is brewed with specialty malts, as well as Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe hops. Brown sugar, honey, and juniper berries are added to liven up the spirit of the brew and make it just festive enough for your winter season.
Number Seven: Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig. Leave it to Sam Adams to create a perfect holiday classic such as the Old Fezziwig Ale. Named for Scrooge’s antithesis, Old Mr. Fezziwig, this brew encourages those who partake this season to have a happy, foolish, and prosperous time. And prosperous you shall be as this beer just tastes simply like Christmas. The composition is full, spicy, and sweet, with hints of cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel. Though the added flavors are bold, they do not hinder the rich malt taste that brings an essence of toffee, caramel, and roasted chocolate.
Number Six: Widmer Barrel Aged Brrrbon. With a name like “Brrrbon”, you can only expect this seasonal red ale to toast you right up. It’s guaranteed to do just that, as this heavy little number has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 9.5 percent! The best part is that Widmer Brothers Brewing has created the perfect palate of flavors to complement this heavy dosage of holiday cheer so it won’t even be noticed. Aged for several months in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, this hoppy red ale offers sweet vanilla and oak aromas, with all the satisfaction of sophisticated bourbon flavor.
Number Five: Young’s Winter Warmer. Another beer to put on your seasonal checklist is the Winter Warmer from Young &Co.’s Brewery. This pungent brew carries a flavor consisting mostly of smooth malt and caramel, as well as essences of dark fruit and dates. It is light yet creamy; a winter miracle preserved in a bottle.
Number Four: Full Sail Wassail. If your plans are to head out “a-wassailing” this year, it’s best to stock up on the beer. What could be more perfect on a chilly night than wassail? How about Full Sail Brewing Co.’s take on the holiday classic. Full Sail’s Wassail is brewed with four kinds of malt, as well as a unique and festive blend of imported hops. It can be described as nutty and complex, though it is also quite herbal and a touch sweet. With this brew, Full Sail has created the perfect holiday beer for all types of beer enthusiasts.
Number Three: Samuel Adams Merry Maker. Being the only brewery listed twice in our Twelve Days of Winter Beer, it’s obvious that we’re quite impressed at Sam Adams’ holiday spirit. For those of you who prefer their winter beer on the sweeter side, Sam Adams has concocted a rich, gingerbread stout deemed the Merry Maker. Although the flavor profile is as sweet as you’d expect a gingerbread cookie to be, what really takes this beer up a notch is the kick of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and (of course) ginger. A few of these, and you’ll see how this delicious brew lives up to its name.
Number Two: Scaldis Noel. Scaldis Noël is a festive brew masterfully made The Belgian Experts, a family-owned company rooted in Belgium. At 12.5 ABV, this is a strong holiday treat, brewed per Belgium custom. It balances the sweet flavor and rich texture of caramel with a light spice and offers aromas of peach and marzipan. Fit for the holiday season, Scaldis Noël has a warming finish and will heat up your belly.
Number One: Tröeg’s The Mad Elf. The Mad Elf is a ruby red gem, brewed by the masters at Tröeg’s Independent Brewing. Its spicy profile surely lives up to its name, as something must have made this brew mad. Though it has a prominent bite and complex flavor, the taste provides a relief of sweet cherries, honey, and cocoa, along with cinnamon and clove aromas. Truly defining all the tastes of the perfect holiday beer, you’d have to be mad not to love The Mad Elf!