With the rise of craft breweries across America, consumers have become more adventurous and no longer demand the exact same beer 365 days a year. Now when they shop, they’re much more interested in finding something new and different rather than more of the same. This has led to the wonderful variety of seasonal beers.
A seasonal beer is typically brewed during or for a particular season, holiday, or festival. They typically incorporate fresh ingredients available during different seasons. Sometimes they’re even created to pair with the weather. Spring trends toward slightly sweeter beers, summer works well with light-bodied beers, fall typically uses spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, while winter focuses on darker and barrel aged beers.
Seeing as it’s winter, we’ll be focusing on winter beers and enlightening you to the variety of options available this season.
Winter warmers, as they’re often called, are big-bodied beers featuring higher alcohol content and spices that produce a literal warming effect. Traditional American winter warmers may include Christmas-like herbs and spices while English strong ales will also be in abundance. You’ll also find big, malty beers like imperial stouts or imperial reds in this category.
Below you’ll find examples of some of our favorite types of winter seasonal beers and a couple of suggestions for each.
Stouts and Porters
These two styles have a lot in common. Dark with a roasty flavor, they’re the heaviest of beers and leave you with a warm fullness that is perfect for holiday hibernations. You’ll also find some with spices to help carry the heavy flavors over your palate.
Imperial is just brewery shorthand for extra boozy. The extra alcohol content provides a pleasant warmth, that helps make the cold nights more bearable. These aren’t beers for all day drinking, so if you’re attending a cookout or anything that starts before dusk, we’d recommend starting with something much lighter and easing your way into these heavy hitters.
Barrel aging has become a popular method for producing winter beers. It involves letting beer age in a used liquor barrel for several months resulting in the oaky flavor of the liquor being imparted upon the beer. This works best on heavy, high-alcohol beers that are available during the colder months.
Chocolate and Coffee
Stouts and porters already have subtle coffee and chocolate notes leading brewers to play on these subtle flavors by actually adding chocolate and coffee to their brews. These dark, heavy flavors are perfect for the kind of dessert beers that embrace winter.