Regardless of where you live, you’re going to need something (usually in beer or whiskey form) to help you warm up on those bone-chilling winter days. What constitutes “bone-chilling” depends on where you reside, of course. If you’re located in San Diego, a day with a high of 50 might be enough for you to bundle up from head to toe. A denizen of Buffalo might feel the same way when thick, blinding snow is cascading down and the temperature dips below 10.
Either way, both of these cold-weather stalwarts require a warming beverage at the end of the day. And since we write about whiskey almost every damn day, we’re focusing on beer this time around.
“The best winter warmer be for me is a Schwarzbier,” says Tyra Demarest, bartender at V Lounge in Solvang, California. “It’s dark as a stout like a Guinness, but the difference would be that it’s not necessarily brewed like a stout — so there’s not much thickness to it. It’s brewed like an ale with dark, rich hints of chocolate. You might get some vanilla in there and in the very, very distant back of your palate you’ll get currants as well.”
If that doesn’t sound like your vibe, we asked 16 more bartenders for their picks, too. Check the beers they shouted out below.
Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout
Jerry Skakun, bartender at Cucina Enoteca in Newport Beach, California
If we are talking warm beers, anything Irish or German would be awesome, if we are talking a beer to opt for that warming sensation, I would say Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout. Throw some vanilla ice cream and dulce de leche in the pint glass — it’s the ultimate game-changer.
Christopher Wright, bartender at Don Camillo Tuscan Cuisine in Corinth, Texas
While not labeled a winter warmer, in particular, my favorite beer to enjoy during the colder months is the Spaten Optimator doppelbock. Do keep in mind that this delicious beverage carries a 7.6 % ABV, so it is best enjoyed where and when no travel is required.
The Spaten Optimator carries all the malty and spicy traits which you would expect from a winter warmer, making this my personal recommendation for the category.
Westbrook Mexican Cake
Allen Lancaster, master cocktail craftsman at The Bar at The Spectator Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina
Westbrook Brewing Mexican Cake is a must-have for me. Cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, and habanero pepper make it the perfect choice for a winter warmer that hugs you from the inside.
Hitachino Nest Weizen
Ilan Chartor, head bartender at MILA in Miami
I like Hitachino Nest Weizen. It’s a German-style Hefeweizen inspired Japanese Beer. It has notes of orange, vanilla, banana, and clove, making it a great winter beer.
Bristol Winter Warlock
Anastacio Garcia Liley, USBG bartender in Colorado Springs, Colorado
I love Winter Warlock from Bristol Brewery. It’s a drier, toasty flavor profile that makes you wish you were out camping with a nice cold bottle by the fire.
Wicked Weed Milk & Cookies
Kirstin Sabik, mixologist at Sneaky Tiki in Pensacola, Florida
Wicked Weed Milk & Cookies feels like coming home for the holidays. Sitting around the kitchen with family and friends protected from the winter chill, this one warms the heart and soul. What flavors make it great? Sweet vanilla, oatmeal, and cinnamon and raisin cookies, just like grandma used to make.
Fat Bottom Knockout IPA
Kimberly Basnight, lead bartender at Fins Bar in Nashville
One of my favorite winter warmer beer would be Fat Bottom Knockout IPA because of its unique flavors, hops to keep you warm, and a hint of grapefruit.
Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Una Green, USBG bartender in Los Angeles
I’m originally from Boston and have been living in LA now for almost twelve years. Around the holidays, and especially 2020 and not being able to travel, I get very nostalgic and sentimental. So I usually reach for a six-pack of the Sam Adams seasonal beers, like the brand’s Winter Lager.
Sire Negri, lead mixologist at Havana Beach Bar & Grill, located at The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, Florida
‘Tis the season for Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Noel. This seasonal release from Brouwerij Huyghe only comes out once a year. This Belgian Strong Ale has strong notes of banana bread, caramel, and seasonal spice. Clocking in at a hefty 10% ABV, Delirium Noel is a wonderful treat.
Ommegang Three Philosophers
Stephen Lasaten, food and beverage manager at The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands
Ommegang Three Philosophers. With its high alcohol content, fruity and chocolaty aromas will give you the feeling of relaxing next to a campfire.
Enjoy this in moderation and it’ll make for a smooth and warm night.
21st Amendment Fireside Chat
Michele Gargiulo, front of house manager and sommelier at Hampton’s Restaurant in Sumter, South Carolina
21st Amendment Fireside Chat is a great winter beer. English style-ale, it tastes like chocolate and baking spices. Cardamom, allspice, and clove are all soft presences in the background.
It is great for warming you up on a cold winter day, while sitting near the fireplace.
Andres Rairan, lead bartender at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel’s The Social Club in Miami
Holidale from Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado has to be one of my favorite winter beers. The ABV on this bad boy is in the double digits, so you will def warm up even after one of these. The dark, red-caramel hue on this beer makes for such a beautiful beer — drink out of a nice room temperature glass and it goes down smooth, thanks to its whiskey barrel finish.
This limited series is one I always look forward to around this time of year.
Brooklyn Winter Ale
Jane Danger, national mixologist for Pernod-Ricard USA
When I want a beer on the lighter side, I really enjoy the Brooklyn Winter Ale. It is a Scottish Style Ale that has notes of coffee, malt, chocolate, rum raisin cake with a bitter citrus bite at the end. If you want to go more traditional look to the 21st Amendment Brewery, Fireside Chat. It’s a great winter ale with spices, not the other way around.
If you don’t have a fireside to sit by this will make you feel like you do. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar toast you up all over.
Joan Percival, USBG bartender in Omaha, Nebraska
Jubelale from Deschutes is awesome for winter warming. It has a nice bit of allspice without being too sweet. Pretty much a perfect winter beer.
Harpoon Winter Warmer
This beer literally has the words “winter warmer” in its name. You know what you’re getting into when you crack one of these open. This 5.9% ABV warming, rich beer is filled with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and winter spices. Mix it with Harpoons hard cider and you’ve got a real warming drink that tastes just like an apple pie.