Seasonal beers will often incorporate holiday-specific flavors or be designed to pair well with seasonal foods. Most seasonal brews are driven by seasonal ingredients, reflecting the changing and growing seasons by incorporating ingredients that typically become available during different times of the year.
Regardless of the reason, seeking seasonal brews is a perfect way to force yourself to try new things while also providing you with a broad knowledge of the ever-expanding world of craft beer.
Winter Beer Styles
- Stouts — These dark, bitter, and roasty flavored beers will leave you with a warm fullness that is perfect for hibernation. What sets stouts apart are their taste and color. They are black and taste like coffee, licorice, and chocolate. A stout should be full and creamy to the taste, making it the perfect beer to sip on on a cold night.
- Porters — A porter is a deep brown, reddish color with a creamy head. It has a roasty chocolate flavor and is slightly bitter. As one of the heaviest beer styles, it is best to drink in the colder months when you need something to warm your insides. With so many different porter options, you will surely find one that satisfies your taste.
- Imperial — Among brewers, imperial is short for extra boozy. Unsurprisingly, most people can’t have too many imperial beers in one night because they are usually not the best idea if you plan on starting to drink around noon. But in the winter, when there aren’t any cookouts or long vacation days to worry about, imperial beers become a lot more appealing. Plus, the extra alcohol content provides a pleasant warmth, which helps make the cold nights more bearable.
- Bourbon — Another popular technique for winter brewers is barrel aging. This involves letting the beer age in a used liquor barrel for months at a time. As a result, the oaky flavor of the liquor is imparted upon the beer. This technique works best on heavy, high-alcohol beers, so they are especially well-suited for the colder months.
- Chocolate and Coffee — Stouts and porters already have subtle coffee and chocolate notes. Many brewers play on these subtle flavors by actually adding chocolate and coffee to their brews. These heavy, dark flavors are perfect for the kind of dessert beers that scream winter.
- Eggnog — This is a recent development, but for those of us who love to sip on eggnog every winter, it’s a welcomed one. The creamy, spicy flavors of eggnog lend themselves well to heavy, dark beers. Again, these aren’t the kinds of beers you’ll want to drink too fast and in large quantities, but if you want a nice dessert beer, eggnog-inspired brews are definitely worth a try.