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Craft Beer Experts Shout Out The One Winter Beer They’d Drink Forever

It’s already mid-November and the holidays are right around the corner. Colder, frigid weather is on the horizon for much of the country. This means the season of cold-weather yet warming beers is (almost) upon us. Specifically, it’s winter beer season.

And while “winter beer” isn’t technically a category, it encompasses styles like winter warmers, white IPAs, Christmas ales, and literally any beer someone enjoys sipping from the days of December’s frost to April’s thaw. That makes the seasonal style both interesting and very broad, which means pretty much every beer drinker can find something they’ll like.

To find the best wintry brews, we turned to the experts who spend their days brewing and tasting beers. We asked a handful of brewers and beer experts to tell us the one winter beer they’d drink forever. Keep scrolling to see their selections.

Half Acre Big Hugs

Half Acre Big Hugs
Half Acre

Ian Felker, expert beer guide for Unboxed Experiences in Boston

ABV: 10%

Average Price: $19 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

I would always reach for this brew to get me through the bitter Midwest winter. Each year’s release gets better and better and it’s always a great and sloppy time to try this imperial coffee stout with its vanilla and bourbon barrel-aged variants. The notes of dark chocolate, dried cherries, and fresh coffee are so well constructed that it never gets too sweet. It’s totally worth blitzing through Chicago’s wind chill.

Sierra Nevada Celebration

Sierra Nevada Celebration
Sierra Nevada

Jack Hendler, co-owner and brewer of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 6.8%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I just bought myself a 12-pack! Sierra Nevada knows how to brew a good beer. It’s hoppy. It’s malty. It reminds me of craft beer from 20 years ago. It’s nostalgic. It’s become a tradition for me. As soon as it’s available, I immediately go out to buy a 12-pk and then drink it way too quickly.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Great Lakes

Brad Bergman, director of brewing at Sycamore Brewing in Charlotte, North Carolina

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $13 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I’m not a big spiced beer guy, but this one hits all of the notes for me while still being drinkable. It has just enough cinnamon, ginger, and floral honey notes to complement the elevated malt sweetness, caramel, bready, and toasty flavors. It’s not intensely sweet or cloying, which is a big thing for me in any beer.

Anchor Christmas Ale

Anchor Christmas
Anchor

Shaun O’Sullivan, co-founder and brewmaster at 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I like this beer’s seasonal spice and herbal aromas. It has a deep rich brown hue, but what I really admire is that they change the recipe every year. It’s a holiday present that’s not fully realized until you crack open that bottle, pour it into a glass, and take in the wonderful holiday beer. It’s also the inspiration for the 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat, our winter seasonal beer.

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice
Anderson Valley

Jerry Siotte, co-owner and director of brewhouse operations at Lone Tree Brewing in Lone Tree, Colorado

ABV: 6.9%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice is my pick. It’s spicy, malty, and filled with caramel malts. Overall, it’s one of the best, most warming winter beers on the market.

Moonlight Boney Fingers

Moonlight Boney Fingers
Moonlight

Matthew Barry, director of operations at Fieldwork Brewing Company in Berkeley, California

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $15 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

I’m going with Moonlight Brewing’s Boney Fingers Black Lager. It’s like their classic Death & Taxes, but even more warming, more roast, more heft, and yet still absolutely crushable. Brian Hunt is a grist god.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Great Divide

Charles McManus, head brewer at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado

ABV: 8.1%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Hibernation Ale from Great Divide has an incredible malty character reminiscent of freshly baked cookies and its ABV is sure to warm anyone up on a cold winter day.

Odell Isolation Ale

Odell Isolation Ale
Odell

Adam Lawrence, head brewer at Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I like this beer because it can be called a winter warmer, however it doesn’t have spices or high ABV. The malt aromas are enjoyable and complex. However, the beer doesn’t finish overly sweet. It’s a great skiing beer too.

Zipline Oatmeal Porter

Zipline Oatmeal Porter
Zipline

Alex Paine, sales manager at WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley, Colorado

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $13 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

This is my go-to winter holiday beer. It has such a great balance of chocolate and coffee with just the right amount of roastiness. It is the perfect accompaniment to talking shit while playing board games with family during the holidays.

Deschutes Jubelale

Deschutes Jubelale
Deschutes

Mark Youngquist, founder of Dolores River Brewery in Dolores, Colorado

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Jubilale starts with a rich caramel body that evolves into treacle and slightly burnt marshmallow. Just as it threatens to overwhelm you, a bright light of floral and mildly tangy hops come to right the world and breathe life into the day. Each draught leaves me wondering what just happened.

Breckenridge Christmas Ale

Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Breckenridge

Jamie Lee Gonzalez, brewer at Living The Dream Brewing Co. in Littleton, Colorado

ABV: 7.1%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I love Christmas, and I love Breckenridge Christmas Ale. Locally, you can find it almost everywhere during the holiday season. The spice and easy drinkability will keep this beer in my fridge for years to come.

Moonlight Death and Taxes

Moonlight Death and Taxes
Moonlight

Patrick Ware, co-founder & head of brewing ops at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Phoenix, Arizona

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $13 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Death and Taxes from Moonlight Brewing is my pick. This beer drinks like a pilsner but has the depth of flavor a stout would present. It’s perfect for all of the holiday drinking sessions.

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