In these cold winter months, nothing beats a frosty snifter glass of dark brown beer. The toasted malts and heavy, warming body of a winter ale was designed to warm you up and stave off the freezing weather from your spirits. It makes sense too, since ales are made with top-fermenting yeast that thrives in warmer temperatures, brewers often make the winter ales during the warm season in preparation for the colder months to come.
Of course, with today’s robust craft beer market you can get beers like these year-round if you like, but right now is the prime time to snag some dark, malty suds. Check out these seven flavorsome winter beers that warm from the inside out and will keep you drinking with the season.
Pyramid Brewing Snow Cap
This dark amber-colored beer from the Seattle-based Pyramid Brewing isn’t what you’d expect from a winter ale. It’s actually far lighter and more hop-forward than others on this list. There is little perceivable bitterness and the beer derives that flavor from the combination of Nugget, Willamette and East Kent Golding hops along with 2-row and Munich malted barley. Don’t forget the categorical malted caramel and chocolate that give it that sweet goodness.
Double Mountain Fa La La La La
This beer from the popular Hood River, Oregon, brewery tastes exactly like a winter ale should — a fastball right down the middle. Its bold flavor comes from the use of Centennial hops and Gambrinus Pilsner malts, giving it a slightly bitter, yet full-bodied sip which stays true until the end.
Fort George Matryoshka
The Matryoshka is a bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout that stands at a hefty 12.75% ABV. This 2019 winter beer is layered with notes of vanilla, coffee and coconut to complement the heavy malts. All of these flavors are melded together in used bourbon barrels, resulting in a complex beer that will keep you satisfied through the colder months.
Counterbalance Brewing Samsparilla Stout
Dubbed as a holiday favorite from the team at this South Seattle brewery, Counterbalance’s “root beer” stout is flavored with Indian sarsaparilla and vanilla beans. The result is a dark, malty and adult rendition of familiar childhood flavors, with a kick of Willamette hops to offer some slight bitterness in the finish.
Deschutes Brewing Jubelale
This seasonal beer from Deschutes is both reliable release after release and timeless. The Oregon-based brewery has been offering this wonderful winter ale since 1988. The beer is full of winter spice notes, like nutmeg, cocoa and cinnamon. Next time you’re shopping for a sixer to sit in front of the fire with, look for this delicious beer.
Sumerian Brewing Go Scrooge Yourself
A very-limited, draft-only release from the Woodinville, Washington, brewery, Go Scrooge Yourself is rich, smooth and malty from its mash bill that also receives a spiced kick from the addition of rye grain. Warming with dried fruits, toffee and brioche, this full-bodied beer is far different from the cold man it is named after.
Crux Mountain Traffic
This hoppy red ale from Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon, was designed with cold weather in mind. As the name suggests, this beer is quenching enough to be good after a long day out in the mountains, yet still warms and fills like a good winter beer should. It’s fairly bitter from the hops yet finishes with a strong malt flavor which balances out the hoppiness.