Winter is not all snow forts and sledding runs, sometimes the dark days and hibernation-inducing weather can be a drag. For everyone already daydreaming of flip-flops and poolside piña coladas, there is a worthwhile distraction – winter beer. When early sunsets and freezing rain require a night indoors, cozy up with these local seasonals.
La Saison de Brett Atlas Brew Works
A solid winter warmer can bring cheer to the dreariest of times, even brightening up those days when the sun sets inexplicably early. So, when wind chill temperatures dip into White Walker territory, reach for La Saison de Brett. Released seasonally by Atlas Brew Works, the 7.1% ABV, Belgian-style winter warmer is a more mature version of the brewery’s La Saison des Fêtes. To create the complex flavors of La Saison de Brett, a batch of La Saison des Fêtes was stashed in red wine barrels, spiked with the eponymous Brettanomyces yeast, and aged for a year, to a produce seasonal ale with a complex flavor profile.
Hop’d Up Party Mixed Culture Hoppy Tripel Denizens Brewing Company
Frost-nipped winter days call for a beer with bold character, something above and beyond the run-of-the-mill lager. Enter Denizens Brewing Company’s Hop’d Up Party Mixed Culture Happy Tripel – as fun to say as it is to drink. The 10.3 % ABV tripel builds on the brewing company’s 9.1% ABV Third Party Tripel, a traditionally-brewed, Belgian-style winter warmer infused with hints of white pepper and candied pear. To create the Hop’d Up Party Mixed Culture Happy Tripel, the brewers kicked up the ABV and added a handful of mostly Southern hemisphere hops (including Galaxy, Waimea, and Rakau) late in the game, creating an even spicier winter beer, with tropical citrus undertones.
Mexican Radio Bluejacket
Mexican hot chocolate is the perfect antidote to winter, and if the sweetly spicy beverage was reincarnated as a beer, it would be Bluejacket’s Mexican Radio. The creamy 7.5% ABV stout is flavored with vanilla beans, fiery ancho chilies, cinnamon sticks, and cacao nibs, resulting in a dark beer with robust flavor. The richly-spiced brew is enjoyable any time of year – especially, when perched beside a crackling fire, on an ice-glazed winter evening.
Like alcohol-infused power shakes, porters always pack a flavor-loaded punch, providing enough nutritional value to sustain a large mammal for seasonal hibernation. Like any robust porter worth its salt, Right Proper Brewing Company’s Haxan offers a full-bodied balance of sweet and bitter. In the 7.0% ABV Haxan, the traditional richness associated with a porter is kicked up another notch with traces of coffee and chocolate frosting, resulting in a robust yet comforting winter companion.
Johann Needs a Bigger Broat Aslin Beer Company
Deep in the Virginia suburbs, Aslin Beer Company has earned a loyal following since opening in 2015, beloved for releasing a string of imaginative and timely brews like Johann Needs a Bigger Broat. The 9.4% ABV Double IPA (DIPA) is supercharged with vanilla, a non-fruited take on Aslin’s Johann Buys a Broat. Basically, to create Johann Needs a Bigger Broat, the brewers nixed the tropical fruit flavors of their original DIPA, and instead, doubled up on the vanilla. For now, until the company relocates to larger digs, microbrew seekers must make the pilgrimage to Aslin’s current Herndon location during weekly beer releases (Thursday through Sunday) to find the sweetly smooth ale.
Lost Bog Man Peated Ale New District Brewing
A relative newcomer to the local craft brewing scene, Arlington’s New District Brewing has been churning out inventive brews like the Lost Bog Man for two years. Produced every winter, the flavor of the 5.5% ABV peated ale includes a complex toastiness from the smoked peat and woodruff, finished with the hoppy bite expected of an ale. For ale-lovers with adventurous palates, the Lost Bog Man is the perfect way to spice up the standard rotation of winter IPAs.
Nectar of the Bogs 3 Stars Brewing
Sometimes chilly days call for a beer with bite, enter the seasonal Nectar of the Bogs, crafted by 3 Stars Brewing. The tangy and light-bodied 5.0% ABV cranberry saison serves as the perfect sidekick for rib-sticking winter spreads, and is recommended as an accompaniment to indulgently buttery cheeses. Or, just as a crisply tart chaser for all that heavy winter stout.
Snow Pants Union Craft Brewing
Baltimore-based Union Craft Brewing is beloved for solid year-round staples, like the Duckpin Pale Ale or the Blackwing Lager, but the brewery also regularly cranks out a rotation of tasty seasonals, like Snow Pants. The dark oatmeal stout is a rich, toasty winter elixir, infused with notes of chocolate, and balanced with a touch of earthiness provided by Cascade and Columbus hops. The hearty, 8% ABV black stout is the perfect post-adventure digestif for any winter excursion, from skiing glades to making snow angels on the front lawn.
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