It’s that time: the snow will soon begin to fall (for many, it is already in full force), the heaters get kicked up, the holiday music starts playing on seemingly every radio station, and winter seasonal beers pop up in grocery stores nationwide. I don’t much care for Ohio winters, but I can honestly say that winter is my favorite season when it comes to microbrews-Autumn in a very close second. In lieu of Black Friday’s passing, I will detail my top five winter seasonal beers.
1. Great Lakes Christmas Ale
This is the end-all of winter beers for this gal. Despite the fact I live in and love North East Ohio, the Cleveland-born Great Lakes Brewing Co. puts out a fantastic winter seasonal. It’s so good it becomes quite difficult to locate in stores at times, which is a bit irritating but makes it that much better once you have a frosty case sitting in your fridge. It tastes like pine cones, ginger, cinnamon, and Christmas goodness. I mean it when I say it “Tastes like Christmas.” It’ll also put you on your bum if you don’t watch out.
2. Magic Hat Howl
I tried this tasty treat for the first time last winter-and fell in love. Behind my adored Christmas Ale, I think this beer takes a close second place. Magic Hat puts out a variety of wonderful beer-including the ever-popular #9 that graces shelves year round. Howl is a black lager that is bitter, a bit creamy, and a subtle hints of roasted coffee. Just thinking about it prompted me to get up from writing this, go to my fridge, and grab one. Absolutely fantastic.
3. Leinenkugel’s Fireside Nut Brown
Some of you may recall this lovely beer from my list of the best Fall Microbrews. I indeed found it so delicious that I included Leinenkugel’s Fireside Nut Brown for both seasons (despite it technically being a winter beer). I look forward to the release of this delicious beverage every November. When it hits the shelves I usually load up. It’s a sweet brew with hints of hazelnut. It’s rather mild, incredibly smooth-truly warming to the heart.
4. Goose Island Mild Winter
Admittedly, I haven’t yet tried this year’s seasonal, a new Mild Winter ale from Goose Island. I will say, however, that I drank quite a bit of last year’s winter and it was absolutely phenomenal. The shining reviews it has received on Beer Advocate makes me think it’s got to be a winner. I enjoy milder beers in the winter, getting away from the crispness reminding me of the cold winter air. Certainly worth a try.
5. Samuel Adams Winter Lager
So Sam Adams may not be the microbrew of all microbrews, but I’ve got to admit: their winter lager is pretty good. In fact, I really enjoy their winter seasonal variety packs. It makes buying beer far cheaper, still retaining quality (though I’m not much of a fan of the Cranberry lambic). You can also find it on tap at almost any bar in the country. Okay, so that’s probably not true, but it’s much more common than some of the other varieties listed.
I know, I know. There are so many that I didn’t list. In actuality, there are many that I still have yet to try. I’m very much looking forward to hunting down the Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale, as well as the Dogfish Head Chickory Stout. In fact, I’m astounded that I didn’t include one stout in this list (being my favorite, after all). I also didn’t mention Rogue’s delicious but non-seasonal Hazelnut Brown. I encourage any and all suggestions of delicious beer for me to try-I’m always up for an adventure. Cheers everyone, and have a wonderful holiday drinking season!