Bartenders Tell Us The Best Beers To Drink All Winter Long

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It might seem like the summer is beer weather. Few things are more refreshing than downing an ice cold beer after spending an hour with the sun beating down on you as you mow your lawn. A day at the beach is incomplete without a light, refreshing beer (or five). And no outdoor concert isn’t better with Corona and lime. That season is perfect for IPAs, pale ales, and other lighter beers.

The winter, on the other hand, is the perfect time for stouts, porters, and all kinds of barrel-aged deliciousness. And unless you’re ready to change hemispheres for a few months, that’s the situation we’re in right now.

When the weather grows cold, some of us reach for dark spirits and warm cocktails. But, others fill their glasses with dark, malty, rich beers. Bartenders, while obvious fans of cocktails, also reach for darker beers during the bleak, sunless days of winter. That’s why we asked them to tell us their favorite beers to drink all winter long.

New Holland Dragon’s Milk Stout

Nahm Kim, head mixologist at Sunda New Asian in Chicago

“What is my favorite wintery beer? New Holland’s Dragons Milk. It’s a superb barrel aged stout from Michigan and it drinks like chocolate milk for adults.”

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Troy Bailey, bartender at Primavera Ristorante in Coronado, California

“During the winter, you’d typically want a beer with a nice malty presence, but I myself am a big IPA kind of guy. The Knee Deep Brewing Company Hoptologist DIPA and Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale are my go-to beers. They have the hopped-up flavor, but finish with a nice malty, sweetness that makes for a great pint or three! Ditch the chilled pint and serve in a room temperature mug for maximum flavor enjoyment.”

Victory Winter Cheers

Nathanael Mehrens, beverage director at Stay Golden Restaurant & Roastery in Nashville

“Right now, I’m really enjoying the Victory Winter Cheers. It’s a spicy and fruity wheat beer that is a great pick-me-up for the darker months.”

Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Leo Barbosa, lead bartender at Havana 1920 in San Diego

“In the winter, I opt for creamy, flavored stouts. They’re rich and fun to taste test, but my all-time favorite is Belching Beaver Brewery’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout.”

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Sean Keipper, beverage director at Jovanina’s Broken Italian in Denver

“It’s a pain to say, but Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (Rauchbier or Urbock for short) is the best winter beer I’ve ever had. It tastes like candied venison. And it’s vegetarian. Everyone wins.”

Bell’s Porter

Gary Matthews, bartender at DrumBAR in Chicago

“I enjoy Bell’s Porter. It’s one of the first beers I fell in love with. It is classic and true to the style. It’s robust without being heavy. Drinks well through the winter season.”

Murphy’s Irish Stout

Jonathan Shock, bar manager at Lady of the House in Detroit

“What is your favorite wintery beer and why? Murphy’s Irish Stout is a classic and its chocolate notes are everything I want from a winter beer that isn’t too heavy or syrupy.”

Second Chance Tabula Rasa

Daniel Condliffe, bartender at JSix in San Diego

“More malt and roast, I love Tabula Rasa out of Second Chance brewing here in San Diego. Light, crisp not too sweet but still has all those full-bodied flavors of chocolate, coffee, and malt.”

Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout

Andrew Meltzer, beverage director at Noosh in San Francisco

“Ninkasi (Nitro) Oatmeal Stout. Hearty, chewy, and full-bodied, the Ninkasi flagship stout is one of the best dark beers from the Pacific Northwest. It’s got a particularly chewy and satisfying texture when served on nitrogen gas line (a la Guinness), but it’s not so dense that you’ll refrain from ordering a second pint.”

Founders Breakfast Stout

Jade Sotack, bartender Jupiter Disco in Brooklyn, New York

“I would kill for a pFriem saison right now, just so I could be reminded that winter will end eventually. But if I’m going to have to choose a dark beer I’m going with Founders Breakfast Stout. No better way to expedite the winter’s end than a 8.3% coffee/chocolate beer situation.”


Tony Gonzales, lead bartender at District in Los Angeles

“Guinness. I love the deep flavors of this beer. Deep flavors, but still light in texture, so you can drink more. And of course, alcohol is always warming to the body.”

Greenpoint Harbor Black Duck Porter

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

“Greenpoint Black Duck Porter, period. Rounded, balanced, hints of coffee and chocolate, and, well since it’s a porter, is the natural beer of the north country. Winter is coming after all.”