Cold Weather Beers That Bring You Cheer

No matter where you are, (at least in the northern hemisphere) it’s very likely cold weather has settled in and dug deep. This is a boon to beer drinkers as many of the most delicious beers crafted these days are perfect for such weather. And even better if you’re in the Pacific Northwest as the wealth of beery goodness here truly boggles the mind.

Let’s begin our journey through this winter-beery wonderland with the Traditional “Holiday” Ales and seek out the Sleigh’r from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, OR. It’s a double Altbier that ups the amperage on toasty and roasty malts, finishing with a whisper of chocolate, and a solid bite from Nugget hops. Also in the Altbier family, Heater Allen is a McMinnville, OR based Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 5.56.33 PMlager specialist that crafts a delicious Sticke (German for secret) Alt that seamlessly balances rich malts and zippy hops. In Bend, Oregon Deschutes brewing crafts a whopper of a holiday treat with their Jubel Ale. With notes of toffee and coffee and a hint of spice, you’ll want to drink this in place of your Christmas pudding. Baerlic Brewing puts a more PacNW spin on their Arctos Winter red, giving it a citrusy and resinous hop profile that goes toe to toe with its rich malt flavors. In the same vein, Seattle’s Maritime Pacific brewing brews their Jolly Roger, guaranteed to warm you from your toes to your nose. Deep dark malts paired with classic PacNW hops

Also cropping up like winter mushrooms, black beers and stouts show up in spades on taplists and in bottle shops all around the region. When tasting Caldera Brewing’s toasted coconut chocolate porter you won’t believe how well the intense amounts of coconut and chocolate go together and still don’t overwhelm. Pfreim Belgian Stout, with subtle flavors of dutch cocoa and spice, is a velvety brew will leave you wanting more. While not uncommon in other parts of the US and the wider world, a specialty and favorite in the Pacific NW is the Cascadian Dark Ale (often called Black IPA, or American dark elsewhere). Brewed especially for those ravenous hopheads that want a beer as black as sin and as bitter as… may we recommend the following: Deschutes Hop in the Dark, Barley Brown’s Turmoil, and Oakshire’s O’Dark:30. These are the beers that will get you where you want to go; black, hoppy, resinous, roasty, and a balanced citrus finish.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 5.56.47 PMRounding out our winter brews are some stand out selections that can be supped, sipped or savored. Breakside Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel aged Aztec is one such beer, this beer is like all the fireworks at once, cocoa and spice and chilies and bourbon and sweet sweet malt. It shouldn’t work, but it’s so harmoniously well balanced that it’s truly a work of art.

Pelican Brewing’s Mother of All Storms, this impossibly dark and dense barleywine is aged in bourbon barrels for months before being unleashed on the unsuspecting public, vanilla, caramel malt, and a skull cracking 14% abv, be ye warned!

Also in the barrel aged family of beers and truly the rarest of the rare, Fremont Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Dark Star Oatmeal Stout and Bourbon Barrel Abominable Winter Ale are worthy of seeking out.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 5.56.57 PMPerhaps most exotic of all, but gaining popularity in beer circles are sour beers, and there are certainly some that will make those cold blustery days seem downright cheerful. Stop in at Cascade Barrel House in Portland for a wee nip of their Caramel Crumb, a blended sour composed of Belgian style quads, aged in brandy and bourbon barrels with vanilla bean and dates. Phew! That’s a mouthful and so is this beer!

Even though the traditional season has passed, Pumpkin brews really shine in the colder weather, with all those flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. If you can find any left on the shelves, Elysian brewing out of Seattle is a pumpkin beer specialist, try their Night Owl, Great Pumpkin, or Punkuccino.
From beer lovers on both coasts to you this holiday season; never forget, the best beer in the world is the one you are drinking. Happy Holidays!

~Jon Webster is refugee from the Beer business, currently living in and drinking his way around Portland, OR.

Beers featured in this article…

Ninkasi Sleigh’r
Eugene, OR
Doüble alt
IBU: 50, ABV: 7.2%

Heater Allen Sticke Alt
McMinnville, OR
IBU: 39, ABV: 5.75%

Deschutes Jubel Ale 2015
Bend, OR
Strong Ale
IBU: 55, ABV: 10.4%

Baerlic Brewing Arctos
Portland, OR
NW Winter Red Ale
IBU: 75, ABV: 7%

Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger
Seattle, WA
Christmas Ale
IBU: ?, ABV 8%

Caldera Brewing Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter
Ashland, OR
IBU: 24, ABV: 6.2%

Pfriem Family Brewers Belgian Stout
Hood River, OR
IBU: 40, ABV: 11%

Deschutes Hop in the Dark
Bend, OR
Cascadian Dark Ale
IBU: 75, ABV: 6.5%

Barley Brown’s Turmoil
Baker City, OR
Cascadian Dark Ale
IBU: ?, ABV: 7.8%

Oakshire Brewing O’dark:30
Eugene, OR
Cascadian Dark Ale
IBU: 72, ABV: 6.3%

Breakside Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Aztec
Portland, OR
Strong Ale
IBU: 36, ABV: 12%

Pelican Brewery the Mother of All Storms
Pacific City, OR
IBU: 40, ABV: 14%

Fremont Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Dark Star Oatmeal Stout
Seattle, WA
Imperial Oatmeal Stout
IBU: 50, ABV: 14.5%

Fremont Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Abominable Winter Ale
Seattle, WA
Imperial Winter Ale
IBU: 65, ABV: 14%

Cascade Barrel House Caramel Crumb
Portland, OR
Blended Sour Ale
IBU: ?, ABV: 10.5%

Elysian Brewing Night Owl
Seattle, WA
Pumpkin Ale
IBU: 18, ABV: 6.7%

Elysian Brewing Great Pumpkin
Seattle, WA
Imperial Pumpkin Ale
IBU: 20, ABV: 8.1%

Elysian Brewing Punkuccino
Seattle, WA
Pumpkin Stout
IBU: ?, ABV: 5%

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