2011-2012 Favorite Winter Ales

Scott and I have been sampling a bunch of seasonal brews this winter because you know it’s beer season!

It would be nice to be able to purchase more variety of bottles in singles for sampling.  Sometimes you don’t want to invest in a six pack (or four pack) of something you haven’t tried yet.

We try to be good sports about it though and my thinking is, if I don’t care for it all that much I know I can still cook with it.  That’s something at least.

Alright so let’s talk winter seasonals!

21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat: 21st is one of Scott’s favorite breweries and when he saw this pop up earlier this winter, he snagged it right away.  It turned out to be a great beer.  Very dark in color with a creamy head.  It’s brewed with spices which come out strong in the flavor.  You can pick up the heat of cinnamon right away in this beer.  It’s mellowed out and not overpowering.  Nor is it in any way similiar to that of say, the cinnamon you find in a pumpkin ale.

This beer is hardy and warming.  Perfect for sipping while chatting with friends or kicking back watching a hockey game.  Only brewed from October to December, so if you see any out now get it before it’s gone.

Snow Cap Winter Warmer by Pyramid Brewing: This is a brew we discovered in winter of 2010 but we found it late and it was part of a sampler pack.  I fell in love with it immediately but was unable to find any more that year.

Tragedy!

So you bet this year, I was on the hunt for it and bought a six pack as soon as I saw it.

This is a warm dark ale.  It doesn’t have the spice or seasonal flavors that other winter warmers carry but it’s a smooth beer with malty goodness.

It has a caramel and slightly nutty taste to it. It reminds me a little bit like New Holland’s Cabin Fever.  If you like caramel sweetness then you’ll dig on this beer.

Great Divide’s Hibernation Ale: I’m not sure if we picked this ale up in a sampler pack or if we bought a six-pack of it outright.  Regardless it’s turned into one of our two go-to seasonals this year.

A little bit on the thicker side for winter ales it’s got a smooth start with a bit of a tangy finish.  By tangy, I mean that it sort of bites your tongue a little at the finish.  That is what keeps the ale from being too heavy by perking things up a bit.

This is the perfect beer for when you just got done shoveling the driveway or finished a long day of removing wallpaper (ahem).

Follow the link so you can read more about it because it’s a beer of love and has an intense aging process!

Harpoon’s Winter Warmer: This is the second of our seasonal go-tos this winter and my pick for favorite seasonal.  I love it!

It’s not quite as dark as the other winter warmers I profiled but it’s got an amazing cinnamony taste to it that reminds me of winter and not pumpkin.

It’s fizzy and a bit lighter making it refreshing.  The first time I had this beer I was out at a local bar getting a burger. It impressed me enough that we purchased a six pack of it not long after.

Since then, I’ve been stocking up when I see it because I know it won’t last long.

The description on the website says it has a pumpkin-pie flavor to it but I wouldn’t say that’s the case.  We all know I love pumpkin beers, and this is far from that.  The cinnamon is spicy adding a heat to the beer that I haven’t come across yet in other brews.

If you enjoy a spiced ale, definitely give this a go!

These are all malty brews, if you enjoy a more hoppy flavor, I would recommend Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.  I found it alright (but I’m not a hophead) but a lot of folks really enjoy that seasonal.

What’s your pick for winter seasonal this year? 

2 thoughts on “2011-2012 Favorite Winter Ales

  1. We tasted a ton of winter warmers to make selections for our Christmas party this year, meaning we also had all sorts of six packs for “personal consumption”, hehe. My favorite is the Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas. I also really enjoy CBC’s winter warmer, the Breckenridge and Anchor Steam Christmas ales, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice, and OK, so I guess I really like winter seasonals!

    The Harpoon is the only one of these I’ve tried, we’ll have to search out these other ones next year. Thanks for sharing!

    • Charise, I tried 12 Dogs at Hal and Al’s, it wasn’t too bad. We have had the Breckenridge and really enjoyed it (plus they have the best label!) and bought a six pack of it that turned out skunky. So bummed! Anderson Valley we also tasted this winter but not the Anchor Steam. I’ll have to give that a look!

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