Winter is here, and it’s not going anywhere for quite some time. That means no backyard barbecues, swimming or pickup games until the winds die down and the ground thaws out.
But even with the holidays largely over there is one last bastion of hope for those of us who loathe the cold: hearty winter brews.
So put on your long johns and let’s take a look…
21st Amendment Brewery Fireside Chat
Fireside Chat is your resident dark wintery brew, perfect for—yep—a calm, reflective chat by a roaring fire. It’s a brown ale with the flavors of chocolate, toffee, coffee, allspice, cinnamon and malt that pairs well with a meaty stew, rich risotto or lush dessert. It’s got a hefty bitter note to round out the sweet flavors and a firm 7.9 percent ABV handshake. FDR would approve.
Harpoon Brewery Chocolate Stout
Chocolate beers are usually held back by a one-note high-percentage cacao flavor, but Harpoon has created a stout that has the smell and taste of everyone’s childhood favorite—milk chocolate. That’s not to say that dark chocolate, coffee and other slightly-more-adult flavors don’t make an appearance. In fact, its thick body is low on carbonation and its aromas of coffee, caramel, vanilla and cream make it look and smell almost as if you’re pouring a cup of flavored coffee. Except this coffee is nearly six percent alcohol.
Rogue Ales Santa’s Private Reserve Ale
This double-hopped red ale sports a roasty, toasty, earthy, malty and bready flavor-punch that does well in tandem with beef, pork, medium-funk cheeses like aged cheddar and roasted winter vegetables. It seems that Santa would concur you’ve been a very good boy this year.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
Thick, beastly, bold and brimming with bittersweet malt and aggressively flavorful hops, Bigfoot doesn’t eff around. It’s a winter storm, come to cover your palate in hints of rich fruit and honey sweetness. It’s made in the barleywine style and is known for its ability to become further aged like a fine wine in the cellar. If you can hold out, that is.
Tröegs Mad Elf Ale
Ruby red, and cheerfully alcoholic (11 percent ABV!) Mad Elf Ale became a favorite in Pennsylvania (where it’s brewed) and is now known far and wide for its flavors of cherry, chocolate, honey and spices and its low hop bitterness. Drink at a recommended temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (no, really), and pair with pork loin, fruits, spiced desserts and sharp, pungent cheeses.
Avery Old Jubilation
Old Jubilation is mahogany in color with an 8.3 percent ABV and the flavor profile of five specialty malts, offering the taste of mocha, toffee and hazelnuts. Sip it alongside large cuts of holiday meat—prime rib, rack of lamb, duck and goose—or drink it down with butternut squash soup or sweet potato casserole. It’s good to be jubilant, especially in the wintertime.
With aromas of bread, burnt sugar and stone fruits, and flavors of ginger and orange zest, Revolution Fistmas doesn’t need to rely on spices to supply ample flavor. Its relatively low bitterness and ABV (6.1 percent) give it warmth, dryness and easily drinkability. Quaff freely with baked ham, honey-glazed turkey, gingerbread and candied nuts.
Samuel Adams Merry Makers
This full-muscled dark gingerbread stout is bound with layers of complexity in the form of cocoa, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and nuts. Roasted malts offer sweet heartiness, wheat and flaked oats provide its body and traditional English hops add earthiness. This is a valuable brew, offered only in 22-ounce bottles and with a jolly 9 percent ABV. Pair with cheesy casseroles, fried briny shellfish such as oysters or full-belly clams, spiced ham, roasted squash and various ginger desserts.