If you’re looking to curl up in front of Peaks and Pints’ fireplace with a delicious beer on a cold, snowy day, a “winter warmer” might come to mind. These brews are not within a narrowly defined style; rather, they’re a broad range of beers that offer bold flavors, often with sweet maltiness and lots of alcohol. In fact, if you want to know the whole horrifying holiday gamut permissible in your winter warmer, the BJCP’s guidelines for “Winter Seasonal Beer” include “Christmas cookies, gingerbread, English-type Christmas pudding, evergreen trees, or mulling spices. Any combination of aromatics that suggests the holiday season is welcome.” Terrifying, yes, but again, we’re not really opening up a spice rack and dumping it into beer this season. The BJCP will “allow for brewer creativity as long as the resulting product is balanced and provides some spice presentation.” When Peaks and Pints thinks winter warmer, we think big brews that can be quite strong — so strong, in fact, that after few you may not care about the weather or even read the thermometer. So, on the day before Thanksgiving, we offer a flight of winter warmers that we call Craft Beer Crosscut 11.21.18: A Flight of Winter Warmers.
Craft Beer Crosscut 11.21.18: A Flight of Winter Warmers
10% ABV, 28 IBU
Brouwerij St Bernardus is famous for both their beers and their heritage. The brewery used to brew the famous Westvleteren beers before the monastery returned all production back to within the abbey’s walls. Their Abt 12 quad represents what Westvleteren 12 used to be before the abbey changed their yeast strain. St. Bernardus’ Christmas Ale is brewery’s Abt 12 offering, but gussied up with rich malt, dark dried fruit, fig, hints of anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar … basically a fruitcake.
6% ABV, 32 IBU
Samuel Smith Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Samuel Smith is one of the few remaining independent breweries in England, and further is the last to utilize the classic Yorkshire Square system of fermentation solely in stone squares. The rich Samuel Smith strain of yeast at The Old Brewery dates from the early 1900s. Hops are hand-weighed by the master hop blender, and the brewing water is drawn from the original well, sunk over 250 years ago. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale is a limited edition sporting big, malty caramel drop with sweet toffee with just a touch of banana and cloves balanced against whole-dried Fuggle and Golding hops leading to a dry, bitter finish.
7.4% ABV, 39 IBU
Kulshan Brewing adds four different malts — 2-row, Chocolate, roasted barley and Munich — to Kitten Mittens Winter Ale giving it the rich, medium-bodied winter warmer we adore with a nose of milk chocolate and a touch of brown malt. The body strikes a nice mix of easy malty notes and medium sweet chocolate balanced by earthy hop notes, thanks to the Apollo, Willamette and Fuggle hops. Expect a touch of chocolate liquor on the finish.
6.8% ABV, 62 IBU
When it comes to cheap winter fun, few activities match the thrill of gliding down a good hill. All that is needed? A toboggan, decent snow, and the stamina to keep climbing back to the top. So, no snow but we’re in for climbing back on the Toboggan — Two Beers Brewing‘s Tipsy Toboggan. A dark and toasty warming winter ale, Tipsy Toboggan offers notes of chocolate, date, plum and orange with a dash of hops. The deep dark color and full flavored finish pair perfectly with outdoor adventures.
11.5% ABV, 70 IBU
People have been making pilgrimages to Portland for Alan Sprints’ beer since the dark ages — back when hazy and sour beers weren’t made that way intentionally. Hair of the Dog’s Doggie Claws, a holiday-themed barleywine, is brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops along with Organic Pilsner malt, British crystal and dark wild flower honey collected on Mt. Hood. It smells of thick, decadent caramel coupled with notes of raisins, molasses and dark fruits. First sip brings a sweet caramel-raisin infused maltiness that carries hints of dark fruits, cherry and sourdough. This is followed by a nice wave of piney, citric, herbal hop bitterness causing a nice interplay between the sweet and bitter aspects of the craft beer.