Craft Beer Experts Name The Best Warming Beers For Chilly Days Ahead

We don’t like to talk much about the weather. Especially this time of year. It will just bum us out to realize that summer (and its lighter, hoppier beers) is in our rearview mirror and we’re heading straight towards winter (with its dark, malty brews) at a faster speed than we’d like. This means the time is right to start stocking up on darker, richer, more robust beers for now and well into the blustery, snow-filled (depending on where you live) winter ahead.

While we’re not limiting this conversation to any particular styles, we want each beer to be extremely warming. This means barleywines, strong ales, brown ales, barrel-aged beers, and even a few bold IPAS. Heat us up. Get the blood flowing. You get the idea?

To find these beers, we enlisted the help of some beer-centric professionals. We asked a handful of brewers and craft beer experts to tell us the best warming beers to drink this fall and winter. Check out all of their answers below, grab a warm blanket, start a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy one of these exceptional brews.

Trust us, the weather won’t stay mild for long. You want to be prepared.

Achouffe N’ice Chouffe


Jan Chodkowski, head brewer at Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company in Denver

ABV: 10%
Average Price: $12.99 for a 12-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

I’d have to go with N’ice Chouffe from Achouffe Brewery. There is something romantic about Belgian winter/holiday beers to me. This beer has a dark caramel and spice character that makes it the perfect beer to sit down with when the days are getting shorter and colder.

Firestone Walker Sucaba

Firestone Walker

Stephen Hale, founding brewer at Schlafly Brewing in St. Louis, Missouri

ABV: 13%
Average Price: $17.99 for a 22-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Not attempting to dodge this one, but since we can no longer get Young’s Old Nick Barleywine, which was simply a truly luscious beer, I would lean towards the strong side of the list and get your favorite barleywine, imperial stout, quadrupel, or one of those that warms you up on those seemingly long, cold days. There’s a bevy of choices these days, it’s really hard to narrow down, but it’s the sublime effect of deep, rich flavors and considerable alcohol strength that guides one to having one by the fire. And of course, always an imperial stout.

If I had to pick one, I’d go with something like Firestone Walker Sucaba. This 13% barleywine is oaky, slightly fruity, filled with caramel, and sublimely warming.

North Coast Old Rasputin

North Coast

Chris Takeuchi, research and development brewer at Ballast Point’s Little Italy brewpub in San Diego

ABV: 9%
Average Price: $10.99 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

North Coast Old Rasputin serves this purpose as well, given that it’s 9% ABV. I also like a good Double/Imperial Red ale like Port Brewing’s Shark Attack, just big and brash and bitter. Alternatively, a high-octane Belgian dark strong ale, e.g. Rochefort 8, St. Bernardus Abt 12, etc. It’s well-balanced, flavorful, and sneakily strong.

The Bruery Black Tuesday

The Bruery

Skip Schwartz, innovation and wood cellar lead at WeldWerks Brewing Co. in Greeley, Colorado

ABV: 19.5%
Average Price: $69 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

I would have to say one of the best warming beers of all time is Black Tuesday from The Bruery. This beer is out of control with tons of oak, tons of chocolate, and roasty flavors bursting through tons of alcohol. The huge ABV of this beer — usually about 16% — is what makes this beer a real star when it comes to warming you up on a cool fall night.

Westvleteren 12


Colby Cox, co-founder of Roadhouse Brewing Co. in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

ABV: 10.2%
Average Price: $40 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Westvleteren 12. I was first introduced to this beer many years ago riding my bike across Belgium with my wife, and it has held a place in my heart and my beer cellar ever since. With Westvleteren 12 there’s enough alcohol to know it’s there at 10% ABV, but beyond that, the flavors are so complex and lingering that each sip presents something different, and delightful.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

Jolly Pumpkin

David “Zambo” Szamborski, brewmaster at Paperback Brewing in Glendale, California

ABV: 9%
Average Price: $14 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

On the cold fall and winter days, we have once a decade here, I like to warm up with a Belgian holiday beer. One American brewer did a take on a Belgian sour that is great around the holidays if you can find a fresh bottle. Jolly Pumpkin’s Noel de Calabaza is a wild ale with notes of oak and tartness enveloped by rich dark fruit flavors. Have it with a nice cheese board.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Sierra Nevada

Ariel Schwartz, head brewer at TALEA Beer Co. in Brooklyn, New York

ABV: 6.8%
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. It represents the end of Summer and hops harvest with the addition of the first hops of the season to the beer’s build which is released in Autumn and carries us through the Winter. It is still easy drinking like so many of their beers. Citrusy and bright hoppiness in a beautiful display of Chinook hops helps balance the maltiness coming through to remind us of the changing of the seasons.

It’s just really tasty and also widely available for everyone to enjoy.

Westbound & Down Double Barrel Aged Louie

Westbound & Down

Brandon Capps, owner and head brewer of New Image Brewing in Arvada, Colorado

ABV: 11.5%
Average Price: $8.99 for a 16-ounce can

Why This Beer?

When the weather turns cold, nothing beats sipping on a glass of Westbound & Down’s Louie. It’s a blend of English barleywines aged in port-finished rye barrels. Delicious and almost infinitely complex, everything I like about classic English barleywines, but with the modern spirit-barrel component.

Brasserie Fantôme De Noel

Brasserie Fantôme

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

ABV: 10%
Average Price: $16 for a 750ml bottle

Why This Beer?

Fantome De Noel is a perfect, warming beer. After brewing with Dany Prignon (founder of Brasserie Fantôme) years ago, I truly understood what it meant to be a farmhouse brewer. He wrapped desert lavender we foraged with a bar towel and threw it directly in the kettle without thinking twice. This beer embodies that freewheeling ethos with expressive spicy notes and that tart dryness I have come to love in their beers.

Heavy Seas Winter Storm

Heavy Seas

Julie Walker, vice president of experiences for City Brew Tours

ABV: 7.5%
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

When I want a beer that warms me right up, I head to Heavy Seas Beer. Known for their high ABV brews, their limited release Winter Storm Imperial ESB is the perfect blend of rich, robust flavor and cozy heat. An extra special bitter can sometimes get overlooked in the brewing world. However, its smooth malt sweetness is balanced out with a surprisingly bitter finish, making this classic style the perfect sweater weather beer. We’re lucky that we get to bring our tours to this amazing Baltimore brewery.

St. Bernardus Christmas

St. Bernardus

Todd DiMatteo, owner/brewer at Good Word Brewing in Duluth, Georgia

ABV: 10%
Average Price: $12 for a 330ml bottle

Why This Beer?

St. Bernardus Christmas. Belgian beers like this hold a special place in my heart and my memories. This 10% seasonal beer shows up for only the last few months of each year. The jolly monk on its label waves his same smile as the other bottles in their world-class lineup, however with this festive brew he’s adorned with a Santa cap and a small cloud of snowflakes.

This big beer has a delicious creamy carbonation that makes what would be a chewy and dense beer so much more drinkable. Big raisin, fig, fruitcake, and banana nut bread are some of my favorite things.

Schneider Weisse Aventinus Eisbock

Schneider Weisse

Todd Bellmyer, head brewer at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver

ABV: 12%
Average Price: $5 for a 12-ounce bottle

Why This Beer?

Whenever I want something to warm the belly and the soul, I seek out Aventinus Eisbock by Schneider Weisse. A style that was discovered by accident, traditional ice bocks — or “eisbock” in German — are made via freeze distillation, resulting in a bock with rich, deep flavors of raisins, figs, and chocolate that comes in at 12% ABV.

Writer’s Picks:

Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break

Evil Twin

ABV: 11.5%
Average Price: $14.99 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

This beer’s title is just as much of a mouthful as the beer itself. This imperial stout was brewed with coffee, almond, and vanilla. It’s super warming and tastes like you’re drinking the smoothest, richest, most delicious biscotti ever created.

It’s bold, robust, and filled with caramel, vanilla, and features a gentle, nutty sweetness throughout.

Bell’s Best Brown


ABV: 5.8%
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

This 5.8% brown ale is a great combination of caramel malts and light hops. It’s complex, well-balanced, and well-suited for those random extra chilly fall days as well as the brutally cold winter nights to come. All in all a great, warming, memorable beer.

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