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Top ten winter beers

Winter has arrived with its typical bluster. Let it snow, we say... but first let us deliver our 10 favorite winter beers right to your door!

2021 top ten winter beers

Winter’s cold, dark nights change the pace of our lives. The season robs us of light and warmth, but invites us to make our own with bonfires, blankets and robust beverages. Beer follows the seasons with ease, offering a wintry mix of deep, lush malt flavors, complex Belgians, hoppy oddities and satisfying stouts. Let’s take a look at ten beers that’ll make you wish the groundhog always saw his shadow.

What’s an easy drinking lager for winter time?

10. Modelo Negra (Vienna Lager)

We also mentioned this in our Thanksgiving beers article, but we’re back at it again this winter with the Vienna Lagers. Modelo Negra is superbly drinkable and balanced. It has great lager smoothness, but caramel malts and a blend of other unmalted grains lends touches of toast and subtle sweetness.

What pairs with Vienna Lager?

Modelo Negra pairs with most wintertime meals without overpowering your palate. It’s great with roasted veggies and meats, as well as savory stews and seafood. At 5.4% ABV, it’s less ferocious than some of its contemporaries on this list.

What pairs with Vienna Lager?

Modelo Negra pairs with most wintertime meals without overpowering your palate. It’s great with roasted veggies and meats, as well as savory stews and seafood. At 5.4% ABV, it’s less ferocious than some of its contemporaries on this list.

What’s a good traditional winter seasonal beer?

9. Great Lakes Christmas Ale (seasonal beer / winter warmer)

This is the Wayne Gretzky of winter seasonal ales. It has cinnamon and ginger spice character, but it doesn’t taste like they used a dump truck’s worth of either ingredient. The spices hit just right with the toasty malt flavors and formidable alcoholic strength (7.5% ABV) to capture the flavors of the holidays and the cold winter beyond.

What foods pair with Christmas beer?

Great Lakes Christmas Ale is great on its own, but you enjoy it with dark poultry like duck, as well as desserts like pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. It’s a beer that’ll have you in the holiday spirit well beyond New Year’s.

I’m a little tired of spiced winter ales. What else you got?

Fair enough. Thanks for being honest with us. Beer always has a plan B.

What’s a good light winter seasonal beer that isn’t spiced?

8. New Belgium Accumulation White IPA (seasonal beer / IPA)

New Belgium took a different approach to winter beers with Accumulation. They threw out the dark malts and spices, opting for more wheat, which gives the beer the pillowy softness of freshly-fallen snow. Ironically enough, their decision to use citrusy hops like Mosaic and Amarillo yielded a pretty killer winter IPA. This doughy, hoppy treat is our top pick for snowstorm watching.

What’s a great Belgian winter beer?

7. Chimay Grande Reserve (Belgian dubbel / Belgian strong ale)

The Trappist monks of Scourmont Abbey brew exclusively magic, and Chimay Grande Reserve is their most complex beer. This Belgian Dubbel has varying aromas of caramel, spices and even some banana from the Belgian yeast.

Why do they call it a “Dubbel”?

“Dubbel” is Dutch for “double”, reflecting the extra ingredients needed to brew such a strong, complex ale. Dubbel flavor hits with dried fruit, caramel, spices and hints of chocolate. At 9% ABV, there is also some slight warming alcohol flavor. Chimay Grande Reserve is a beer suited for a chalice and deep conversations among friends - or perhaps even enemies.

What’s a sour beer for wintertime?

6. Petrus Aged Ale (Belgian sour / wild ale)

Tired of breaking windows with wayward corks? Want to replace the champagne at New Year? Petrus Aged Ale might be your key.

Is there a beer that tastes like champagne?

Petrus definitely checks a lot of those boxes. Like a great champagne/sparkling wine, it’s already at least two years old before you can even get your hands on it. It pours a gold-to-orange hue and has a crisp, tart intensity. Its long aging process also brings out hints of oak and fruits like dried apricot. This sour ale is welcome at any winter celebration, and it’s less likely to put an eye out. Enjoy with sharp cheese, grapes and crackers.

What’s a good IPA for winter?

5. Sierra Nevada Celebration (IPA/Seasonal)

This, friends, is an IPA we wait for every winter. Sierra Nevada has been brewing Celebration since 1981, which is truly insane in an industry that loves trends. Why do they still brew it? Because it’s irresistibly delicious.

A Fresh Hop Ale?

Sierra nabs the first hops of the harvest for this beer, hence the “fresh hop”. Its hop aromas and flavors are piney, citrusy and ever-so-fresh. Celebration has a coppery malt backbone to support it all without weighing it down. At 6.8% ABV, it’ll warm your bones without wobbling them. Grab this one while it’s available.

What’s a decent non-alcoholic beer?

4. Heineken 0.0 (N/A beer)

Winter is a time when many of us add some non-alcoholic options to our fridge. Non-alcoholic beer flavor is notoriously spotty, so it’s hard to guess what you’re going to get with some of these. Thankfully, Heineken surprised us with their 2017 entry into this market.

How does Heineken 0.0 taste?

Heineken brewers ferment 0.0 (twice, apparently) with their lager yeast, which adds critical flavor compounds to the beer and makes it taste like, well, beer. Then they remove the alcohol; they don’t say how, but they do say that it’s “gentle”. However they remove it, they leave a lot of nice malty, fruity flavor behind. The result is remarkably faithful to OG Heineken.

A Stout Trifecta

What are the best stouts of winter?

Winter is a season to expand your stout horizons. You probably already have some experience with smooth, light-bodied Guinness, and that will always be a go-to pint as winter softens into spring, but let’s dig a little deeper into three stouts that will fire up your winter.

3. Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout (milk stout)

If you find most stouts to be too roasty and bitter for your liking, Left Hand’s silky, delicately sweet Nitro Stout just might be your jam. It’s a sensory feast of chocolate, vanilla and just a hint of roast and coffee. The dose of lactose gives the beer a welcoming sweetness and pairs well with the nitrogen for a creamy mouthfeel. At 6% ABV, it’s a surprisingly rich winter treat that’s great on its own or with your favorite dessert.

2. Founders Breakfast Stout (imperial stout with coffee)

We’re getting into the heavy hitters now where both recipes and barrel aging make key flavor assists. Up first is Founders with their lush and lively Breakfast Stout. We aren’t suggesting you drink this 8.3% beer in the AM, though; the “breakfast” name is a nod to the coffee blend they age this beer with. Stir in creamy flaked oats and two kinds of chocolate and you’ve effectively leveled up your standard imperial stout. Breakfast Stout has a richness, depth and complexity that’ll stir the soul even on the darkest winter’s night.

1. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (imperial stout)

The original barrel-aged stout might still be the best. Beginning in 1993, Goose Island put a big honkin’ stout into freshly emptied bourbon casks and after they tasted it, they never looked back. Bourbon County Stout ages in oak for about 1 year, developing powerful but balanced flavors of oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, smoke and indeed bourbon. When it comes out it’s a velvety blend of all those components and yet something more. This is a powerful, genre-defining beer that you should enjoy with someone of quality after a hearty winter meal.

Winter is all about how you approach it. Let Drizly take some of the chill out of it for you, and get our beer delivered in 60 minutes or less.