November is a great month for beer, food, and… more beer. Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away and then the full brunt of winter will arrive. That calls for big ales with heavy duty ABVs to get you through the season. Winter ales, big porters, and funky wheat beers are all in order while sitting next to a crackling fire with a plate of leftover turkey and pumpkin pie.
Below, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the best beers being released and hitting markets this November. Some of these are easier to find (with larger distribution); some you’ll have to travel for and do a bit of sleuthing to uncover. Either way, a good beer is always worth the trouble! Happy hunting!
SPRUCE TIP IPA — UPSLOPE BREWING COMPANY
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We're still riding those mountain highs from the Backcountry Tap Room last Saturday 🌲 If you didn't make it out to try our new Spruce Tip IPA (or just didn't get enough), we're tapping it today for our #tuesdaytapping at Flatiron Park! It's also available in cans at the tap room 🍻 Won't be in stores till Nov. 1 as our Winter Limited Release #backcountrytaproom #ipa
Bright spruce trees on a crisp late-autumn morning fill the air with a pine-y aroma that’ll beckon you outdoors. Upslope’s Spruce Tip IPA will transport you to a Colorado spruce forest on a frosty morning with the very first sip.
The beer is hopped with Simcoe and Cascade hops and then amped up with fresh spruce sprigs to add an extra deep layer of pine. This isn’t a hefty or dank pine resin as much as it’s a mellow and bright spruce. Think of it more like taking a walk through the woods. That’s balanced by a real sense of orange peel to counteract the pine, followed by a bit of malty heft.
If you want the feeling of getting lost in the forests of the PNW, this is the one for you.
HOP COCOA — WICKED WEED BREWING
You can’t beat a great porter this time of year. The dark ale has a nice heftiness that leans into roasted flavors, smoky fireplace vibes, and, often, chocolate delights. Wicked Weed’s Hop Cocoa feels like a long winter night spent next to a fire.
There’s a real sense of funky ale at the base of this beer. From there, you get an almost tart citrus note before the brash cocoa comes in. Wicked Weed uses cocoa nibs in the tank, so you’re really getting an earthy chocolate, not a sugar bomb. It’s not creamy or overly saccharine whatsoever. It’s just a nice balance of hops, funk, and cocoa.
ACCUMULATION WHITE IPA — NEW BELGIUM
Accumulation White IPA is the perfect accompaniment to a big roast dinner with spicy/sweet deserts. The winter wheat beer starts off with a burst of bright citrus that melts into a spiced cake foundation. There’s a nice whisper of maltiness in the background that props up the bitter hops.
The addition of wheat to the mash brings out mellowing factor. It sands the rougher edges off the hops just enough to make it extra quaffable. Serve this one with the turkey and everyone will be happy.
OLD FEZZIWIG ALE — SAMUEL ADAMS
If Samuel Adam’s Old Fezziwig Ale doesn’t get into the festive spirit, nothing will. The warming ale starts with a nice dose of spiced cake sweetness and, well, spices. Allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger dominate.
From there, the beer goes down almost too easily. The sweetness of the malts really shine here. It’s almost like a mincemeat pie — there’s a sense of that buttery and sugary crust and a dried fruit filling shining through. This is winter in a bottle.
WHITETAIL WITBIER — FAMILY BUSINESS BEER CO.
Down Austin way, Nate Seale continues to kill the craft beer game at Family Business Beer Co. There’s a great set of beers on tap right now if you’re in the area. Our favorite, at the moment, is their Whitetail Witbier.
The subtle Belgian wheat ale has a beautiful balance of earthy grain that brings out a bright bouquet of tangerines and coriander. That’s followed by a clear citrus zest. The whole beer is a well-rounded example of wheat, citrus, light-hop, and malty delights.
BIFROST WINTER ALE — ELYSIAN BREWING COMPANY
Seattle’s Elysian knows their way around a good winter pale ale. Their Bifrost Winter Ale is a high-water-mark of the style and definitely deserves a spot in your fridge this year.
The beer opens with butter sweetness that’s reminiscent of caramel apple pie, spiced with plenty of cinnamon and allspice. Then the counterbalance comes in with a little fresh orange zest followed by biscuit malt and earthy hops. It’s complex yet very easily sipped through the whole winter.
CHANUKAH HANUKKAH, PASS THE BEER DARK ALE — SHMALTZ BREWING COMPANY
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This Hanukkah, the #menorah won’t be the only thing getting #lit 🍺 The Chosen Beer will be available soon! Keep an eye out 👀 • • • • • • #shmaltz #shmaltzbrewing #shmaltztalk #beerrelease #comingsoon #craftbeer #thinklocaldrinklocal #beer #beers #hanukkahbrew #hanukkahbeer #hanukkah2018 #holidays2018 #beernerd #beerlovers #lovebeer #instabeer #passthebeer #beerme #nogelt #noglory #nogeltnoglory
Shmaltz’s Hanukkah Beer is a one of the great winter ales. This is a big beer with big ideas that just works.
There are a lot of hops, malts, cocoa nibs, and ABVs at play here. The beer takes on a distinct fruitiness with both stone fruits and citrus coming through. Next, you’ll get a nice hit of cloves, allspice, and pepper followed by the cocoa. Finally, the maltiness comes in like a nice buttery biscuit that’s almost toasted before the floral pine resin bitter hop finish. It’s a beautiful can of suds.
INTERNATIONAL PICK OF THE MONTH: N’ICE CHOUFFE — BRASSERIE D’ACHOUFFE
N’Ice Chouffe is a big, dark winter ale from Belgium that damn near defines how great these winter ales can be. The beer is a powerhouse with a ten perfect ABV, so be careful with this one.
There’s almost an ashen pine aroma at the very beginning. Then come the spices. This is Christmas cake territory in the best possible way with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg shining through in a perfect balance. Next, the creaminess of the wheat balances the hint of berry-like brightness with a nice dose of malted barely leveling everything out. Get a six-pack and drink them slowly while cooking a big meal. You might be drunk by the time you’re finished cooking but it’s all good, man.