The end of Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season, so yay for presents, traditions, great food and of course, great beer. If you haven’t already spotted them, in a few weeks you’ll be inundated with seasonals that have “winter” in their name. Don’t be fooled by the packaging, “winter” isn’t a characteristic that denotes anything different from fall beers and there are still many great beers hanging around from autumn that you should try. Here are some to drink all winter long.
The sad news that Sierra Nevada was retiring their fan-favorite Tumbler Brown Ale might seem to leave this seasonal category a little dry, but there's still a wealth of wonderful brown ales that pair perfectly with seasonal dishes, like one of my personal favorites, choucroute garnie or everyone's favorite, Thanksgiving leftovers! Look out for like Dogfish Head’s hopped-up, brown sugar-sweetened Indian Brown Ale and Port Brewing’s Board Meeting Brown brewed with local coffee and chocolate. Take it to the next level with Pipeworks BeeJay’s Weirdo Brown, made with Nelson Sauvin hops for a dry white wine quality.
Light red ale can be the perfect pairing with lobster rolls in the summer, but in winter, there are plenty of heartier and hoppier varieties that shouldn’t be overlooked. Maine Beer Company’s Red Wheelbarrow and Cigar City’s Tocobaga Red Ale are excellent warmer, deliciously hopped examples. If you’re looking to heat things up even more, AleSmith Brewing Company’s YuleSmith cranks up the bitterness and the ABV to a respectable 8.5%.
Drinking pumpkin beers past Halloween may seem a little out of season, but not all of them are low-ABV spice bombs. In fact, there are plenty of releases that are worth drinking throughout the winter and to save and age for a couple of years. Southern Tier’s Pumking and Schlafly’s pumpkin ale are both imperial releases that will hold up well for months to come. If you’re willing to be patient, Avery’s Rumpkin and Almanac’s Pumpkin Heirloom Barleywine, both barrel-aged high-heat pumpkin ales, reliably reward careful aging with delicious results.
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