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Top Five(ish) Beers For Winter

December 1, 2011

Eating seasonally is a concept with no downside; it encourages the production of real food, which tastes better and is better for the environment to produce. Plus,  the natural ebb and flow of flavors allows you to anticipate certain seasons for all the tastes you have missed. Seasonality is the way to go, and this applies to beer as well. Below are my favorites for winter:

Great Lakes Blackout Stout/Old Rasputin: Both of these beers are, in my mind, classics. They are both thick, complex stouts with coffee, chocolate, and roasty malt flavors. Both have cult followings. If you can find Great Lakes, grab it immediately; the Rasputin is easier to get in any state, year round.





Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin: This oatmeal stout leans on the chocolate more than the previous two. The oats provide a creamy sweetness, but it’s not a cheap sweetness; this is still one complex stout, with roasted coffee under the chocolate and a dry finish that keeps you coming back for more.




Great Lakes Christmas Ale: I had considered that I might be biased towards GLBC because I’m from Cleveland. Even so, this is the best Christmas Ale I’ve tried yet. It’s better than Jubelale, which is good but not as complex, and preferable to Celebration Ale, delicious but too hoppy to be a favorite winter beer. GLBC’s famous release maintains a rare balance between sweet, spicy, and bitter that few achieve. Honey is more dominant than cinnamon here, but both are present within a strong malt base. Hops cut that base, and clear the mouth. At 7%, a noticeable alcohol warms you up immediately. Still, the whole thing is light enough to keep drinking all night.




Great Divide Hibernation Ale: This aged ale is thick and creamy, with chocolate and malts as the dominant flavors. There is caramel in there as well, plus hops performing their best role in a winter beer as a balancing act. This is the thicker, sweeter version of GLBC’s ale.

Others: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Deschutes Jubelale, Deschutes Black Butte, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, Founder’s Kalamazoo Stout, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Founder’s Porter

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